Monday, June 11, 2007

When Nouns Become Verbs: A Theory on Etymology From a Girl in Pink Taffeta

Warning: If you are not a self identified grammar geek, you may be painfully bored by the following post.

I have a theory about the English language. The theory posits that nouns act as verbs when no verb exists to adequately describe the action of that noun. Example of nouns that pretty much own their own verbs are as follows: snakes ---> slither, horses ---> gallop and soul dancers ---> boogie.

On the other hand, some nouns have no choice but to double as verbs in order for people to effectively communicate their meaning.

Examples include:
  • Google (as in "Let's Google the 13 colonies since I just lost a bet on which states were in the mix.")
  • BART (as in "Parking downtwon will be hell. Let's BART to the restaurant.")
  • Oh, and a friend of mine in DC recently used JDate as a verb, which I found hilarious. Something like, "Wait, I think I know that girl. Oh, right, my roommate Jdated her a couple months ago."

    The theory also proposes that the reason some nouns don't have dedicated verbs is that those nouns became popular before any matching verbs had a chance to evolve (e.g. Google). Rather than work around such limitations which would necessitate the inclusion of extra words (i.e. "Let's conduct a Google search to find out...."), we English speakers create shortcuts that work for us. Why? Cause we're lazy bastards and who's gonna tell us not to?

    The reason this is on my mind as of late is that a certain verb has evolved in said manner within my personal vocabulary and I'm a little embarrassed about it. Having participated in quite a few weddings, I've found myself rocking "bridesmaid" as a verb. Usage examples include but are not limited to: "Sorry, can't make it that weekend. I'll be bridesmaiding for [insert bride's name]." And, "Damn, all this bridesmaiding is exhausting."

    Now that I'll be a bridesmaid for another good friend (give it up for Ms. Dayle) this verb is back in play. No doubt my first email to the other bridesmaids will close with something along the lines of "Looking forward to bridesmaiding with you girls." Is that so wrong?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

my biggest pet peeve right now is co-workers using "ask" as a noun. "So the ask is that we have a meeting." UGH!!