Thursday, 15 January 2009

Nounage and Verbage

A little linguistic quirk I've noticed lately is the practice of using nouns as verbs and vice versa. It occured to me yesterday that the name for this must surely be 'verbing' and 'nouning' which is itself a 'verbation' of the words 'verb' and 'noun'. Nounation is also possible, but rarer. Maybe it should be called deverbation.
On the whole, I'm not a fan, mainly because the biggest culprits...sorry...pioneers of this seem to be middle management types.
I'll just example this now:

Verb as noun: "It's a big ask"
Literal meaning: "Somebody is asking for a lot."
Actual result: "This company is making completely unfair demands on its workforce and needs to make the sudden surge in workload sound better"

Noun as verb: "We need to action this."
Literal meaning: "We need to do this"
Actual result. "We need the higher ups to think that this is more important and impressive than it is by using a longer word than "do".

Verb as noun: "This is a go."
Literal meaning: "Go."
Actual result: "I'm giving you a direct order, but I want it to sound like I'm just providing information as to what the situation is, so that you don't feel you can challenge me on it."

As big an irritate as this trend is to me, I think it's time to increment it in everyday speech (sorry, should that be speak?).
In fact I've encountered it in its purest form: my wife, when searching for a word, substitutes the word 'thing' with 'do'. as in 'Pass me that...handbaggy-pursey-do' This may be a contraction of words like do-dah, doofer, etc. but it's still the ultimate verbation.
And if verbation isn't already a word, is it too big an ask that we all start actioning it in every day life?

1 comment:

  1. Verbing weirds language,
    said Calvin to his tiger.
    Frindle taught me much.