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Why Do We Verb Nouns?

Rob Kyff on

"Let's Christmas like crazy!"

"How do you burger?"

"People encored him again and again!"

Faithful reader Oren Spiegler of Upper Saint Clair, Pa., recently spotted these exuberant conversions of nouns to verbs.

Like most of us, Oren enjoys the sly retrofitting of nouns to create verbs for one-time use, as in "to Christmas" and "to burger."

Hey, that's the fun of English!

But, like Oren, many of us grow queasy when verbal alchemists transmute the base metal of a noun like "encore" into a golden verb. We wonder, will this trend mushroom? Will it snowball? Will it, well, encore?

After all, we've been goosed by many creative verbs before. People now "guest" a talk show, "guilt" a friend, and "task" a committee. Online, we "bookmark" websites, "google" questions and "friend" acquaintances.

Of course, many trendy verbings are simply unnecessary. Why "conference" when we can "confer," or "dialogue" when we can "talk," or "author" when we can "write"?

But let's not forget that many of the verbs we regularly use today were once nouns, e.g., "reward," "weather," "experience," "survey," "fire." Just 50 years ago, purists were condemning the use of "contact," "host" and "stomach" as verbs, but we have no trouble stomaching these verbs today.

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Copyright 2017 Creators Syndicate Inc.
 

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