Nouns Get Verbed and Language Evolves

About a year ago, a co-worker I hadn’t seen in more than a decade friended me on Facebook.  When she first messaged me, her note was a  bit sheepish.  Not because we hadn’t stayed in touch, but because we had worked together as newspaper copy editors, and she wasn’t completely comfortable reintroducing herself by using “friend” as a verb.

“I’m a little embarrassed to get back in touch by verbing you with a noun,” she wrote. “But C’est la Facebook.”

She’s so clever!

I hadn’t realized until reading her note how often I use friend and other nouns as verbs.   Verbing is not a new trend, but it seems more common than ever.  I sometimes find it irritating, but mostly when it’s used in business-speak.  For example, a former manager never said we would talk about something, he said we’d dialogue it. That’s a little irritating, no?

For some interesting insight on verbing, read  YOU’VE BEEN VERBED by Anthony Gardner from More Intelligent Life.

Grammar Watch is an occasional series about grammar peeves, abuses, giggles, and rants.  Email me with any topics you’d like to see included here.

Resources:  Intelligent Life Magazine, Anthony Gardner, Facebook, The Daily Post.
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6 responses to “Nouns Get Verbed and Language Evolves

  1. Dialoguing it is far beyond annoying – we’re entering the realm of “how did I ever get into this situation?”

  2. I am responsing in the comment section. Is that wrong?
    -Jen :-)

  3. Hey!
    You’re so right about the ‘verbing’! Unfortunately, I don’t really notice it anymore most of the time. I’m pretty sure though that I would have noticed ‘dialoguing’ – it’s awful beyond any words…!

    Facebook has its own language. It’s slowly taking over. (*shriek!*)

    Anyway, I’m enjoying browsing through your blog – good job!

    Cheers,
    Aniki

  4. I’ve slowly come to the opinion that fighting the change of language is pretty futile, and I should just go with the flow :)

  5. Oh, I agree. It is a battle worth fighting, though it is 0ne that you can’t win. Language changes. The CMOS now advises not using “presently” at all, since its official meaning (“in the near future”) it beyond recovery, and its common use (“now)” is not used by people who write precisely.

    My main character in my stories is a detective who models herself (in some ways) on Nero Wolfe, including his precision about language (he wouldn’t even use “contact” as a verb, which is more acceptable to most people than “dialogue”). At one point she even takes a case only after asking if her prospective client has ever used “dialogue” as a verb. :-)

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