Monday, February 8, 2016

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #344 -- Verbing

What do you think about the current trend of "verbing" nouns?

I love language. I love the etymology of words that haven't changed in hundreds of years, and I equally love the constant changing and updating of language that keeps English a sort of living, breathing, growing thing.

A few years ago there was a bit of a uproar about a French group devoted to keeping the French language pure and (for the most part, unchanging) defending it against the assaults of modern colloquialism. A lot of my friends are so-called grammar Nazis who feel the same way about American English.

I myself only recently grew up enough to get over the debate about the Oxford comma. My policy on it now if whatever my publisher in question decides as its official stance.

I have no problem verbing a noun. Nor do I have any issue with nouning a verb. (See what I did there?) I think it's an amazing facet of language that it can be versatile enough to adapt in the face of changing culture.

After all, this isn't anything new. We gave up -est and -eth a long time ago. And who among us speaks the official English of Chaucer? And to give someone "solid dick" now doesn't mean what it did in the 1930s. Nor does "gay" primarily mean happy in the mind of the average listener.

Things change. Words and grammar change. And we as writers should welcome and understand that change. Or at least that's what I believe, and you can trust that to be the solid dick from me.