Thursday, 8 December 2016

Word of the Day - Verb

Today's word is verb, used as a verb. I quote a Facebook post from Christine Mackenzie, "Is there any word which can't be verbed?" 

She gave this lovely example "The strategy, helmed by major shareholder James Packer." And in return Susan Bray quoted Shakespeare "they heroed me" from KJulius Caesar. And I said that I was too sydneyed out to think of an answer.

What is the answer? Perhaps we should accept the inevitability of verbing, and see if there might be rules which can make it possible to verb any word in the English language - as long as it is not already a verb, of course. Perhaps the last word should go, for now, to Anthony Gardner writing in The Economist a few years ago about verbing, or more correctly, denominalisation. Not the real last word - that will be the last word to be verbed. Gardner gives two nice examples from the sixteenth century:

Shakespeare’s Duke of York, in “Richard II” (c1595), says “Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle”, and the 1552 Book of Common Prayer includes a service “commonly called the Churching of Women”.

I've decided to revive this blog. I will continue to look at neologisms, but I have become quite fascinated lately by idioms, metaphors, similes, figures of speech and the like. Send me your favourite examples, and I'll tell you all about them in this blog.

Thank you Chris.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Verbing is a very troubling linguistic phenomenon. Next someone will try to rationalise the spelling of practice> (n.) and practise (v.) ... or hang on, didn't someone already try to do that?