Friday, 15 February 2008

Word of the day

Today's word is incent, used as a verb - thanks to Dilbert, where the verb is used as a synonym for motivate - ironically, needless to say. An interesting way of creating new words is to fill in gaps in forms of speech for existing words. A long-standing noun, like incentive, can also give rise to new (or rediscovered) verbs and participles, in multiple forms - incentivise, but also incent. Language is a wonderful thing, and this is the UNESCO Year of Languages.

According to the American Heritage Book of English Usage, we have had incentivise since the 1970s and incent since the 1980s. Alas, 96% of the book's Usage Panel reject a basic use of incent and prefer other words, leaving the use of this valuable emerging verb to small niches like "business leaders", according to the AHBEU. What would they make of

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