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Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.



Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Verbing Words - A Good Concept, But...

Via Slate, the tale of one man's attempt to get the word "concept" into the Merriam-Webster dictionary as a verb.

Ray Del Salvio's Verb4Concept campaign brings to mind Calvin's fondness for verbing words:

Calvin: I like to verb words.
Hobbes: What?
Calvin: I take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs. Remember when "access" was a thing? Now, it's something you do. It got verbed. Verbing weirds language.
Hobbes: Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding.


Verbing words is sometimes sensible. "Blog", for instance, works equally well as a noun and a verb. Verbing is also sometimes a good idea just in the name of weirdness, as long as it's entertaining. Del Salvio's suggested sample sentence, "The team set aside some time for concepting in order to flesh out some plausible directions", is kind of weird, but it's not much fun. There seems to be little point to weird verbing if it isn't at least fun.

The word "conceptualize" doesn't satisfy Del Salvio and the need for examples of "concept" being used as a verb hasn't stopped him. Onward he presses. While he hasn't convinced me to join the campaign, he has inspired me to verb more often.

Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary, on the other hand, accepts users' submissions essentially on good faith. Recent entries include fauxlex and Survivor Diet.

Teenage Fanclub - The Concept (from Bandwagonesque)

Jets To Brazil - Orange Rhyming Dictionary (from Four Cornered Night)

Hooverphonic - Dictionary (from Blue Wonder Power Milk )

4 Comments:

Blogger Cam said...

i was just thinking about this yesterday. well sort of, i want to use "wikipedia" as a verb more. example:

"i wikipedia my geek needs every night"

now i just have to form a cult and spread the verb

9:28 AM  
Blogger trill42 said...

Yeah, you should totally cultify.

Maybe there should also be a cult of the verbed word... some sort of (online) shrine dedicated to honoring/tracking verbed words. (If there already is one... good!)

12:59 AM  
Blogger Parry said...

How about when brand names become verbs? Like when we used to courier things, now we "Fedex" them. It wasn't enough that brands controlled our wallets and purchase intentions, now it's language too. Sweet.

12:37 AM  
Blogger trill42 said...

Yeah, it is odd how often brand names enter the common language. Corporations often fight that, to protect their trademarked terms. Sometimes genericism happens anyway. If it makes big corporations unhappy, it can't be that bad? I'm conflicted. And maybe there's some case to be made for a shared cultural bond created among people when they start using new words/old words to mean new things (even when the new word is a corporate trademark). Still conflicted.

11:42 AM  

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