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Verbing Weirds Language - Don't Verb Your Nouns!

April 18, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 185

I'm going to start this post with a confession.

I'm part of the generation that was never formally taught English grammar. I don't know what adverb means, I think pronouns sound slightly seedy, and that conjunction is something that happens in a car park outside a prison.

But I do know that if you use a noun as a verb, you're going to look like a complete and utter berk.

For your reference, here is the difference between a noun and a verb:

noun: A word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things (common noun), or to name a particular one of these (proper noun)

verb: A word used to describe an action, state, or occurrence, and forming the main part of the predicate of a sentence, such as hear, become, happen (Yes, verb is a noun. This is why I'm generally opposed to spending any time with formal grammar. It just winds me up)

"Verbing" - a truly horrific phenomenon

Verbing, or verbification, is the practice of taking a harmless, charming little noun and forcibly cramming it into parts of a sentence where a verb would normally sit.

For example, "Inbox", a noun referring to the part of your email account where incoming mail is shown, has been verbed.

Where we'd once say something quick and cheerful like "drop me an email", certain people now use the brutally curt "inbox me".

And it looks horrible.

Wikipedia claims that verbification is a generator of neologisms, and a demonstration that English is a wonderful, living language that's shaped by the people who use it.

Personally, I think that if you can't be trusted to use a word properly (or at least attractively), you shouldn't be allowed to form sentences.

And here are the worst offenders. Steer clear of verbifying these nouns, unless you want to look like a complete pillock.

These are NOUNS, not VERBS

I put a message out across Twitter to see whether others felt the same way I do about the scourge of verbing. Unsurprisingly, there's a fair few strong opinions out there. So make sure you steer clear of the following:

Inbox

My own bete noire, inbox is a textbook case of unnecessary verbing. There are many alternatives to wielding inbox as a verb; text me, email me, drop me a line. In fact, I'd hazard a guess that every sort of messaging system that uses an inbox has its own, more palateable alternative.

Weird

Ever been in a situation when something's made you feel weird? I have. Most recently, it was when someone let me know that spiders "just weird [them]". Oh dear. There's only one instance when you should use weird as a verb, and that's when you explain to people that verbing weirds language.

If you feel strongly about verbing, share your outrage or your spirited defence in the comments section. Just don't you dare inbox me.

Andrew Nattan is Communications manager at FirstFound, the UK's leading Search Engine Consultancy. He's also involved with FirstFound's Optimise Magazine.

Source: EzineArticles
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