Friday, July 29, 2011

The Neo-Verb or Noun Redux

According to the 2005 Miriam Webster Dictionary and a few other sources, the word impact has now graduated from noun to verb, and it is accepted both in formal and informal speech. Old school academics poo-poo this notion, and even I, this very week at work, deleted impact from four instances of usage as a verb, and then recommended appropriate substitutions. I think, however, that I should be more understanding of the trend. After all, aren't writers supposed to embrace with creative spirit the ever-adaptability of words, much less the very enthusiasm of using impact to describe with passion the action of hitting something forcefully?

Considering this development, I began to ponder other nouns that could benefit from growth--from the name of an object to the suggestion of movement. Walking about the office this afternoon, I could only find nouns that had already become action verbs: squirrel, suit, tile, pen, tag. (And if you are wondering, yes, I can see squirrels from my office window. No, they don't wear suits.)

But then, on my desk, I found it--a noun just clamoring to become a verb for the very first time. Words, I explained to the department administrative assistant (Weren't these ladies once called secretaries? See the change?) develop and alter in meaning with every advancement in technology and business. And here was the perfect example: my Jawbone (or for those of you that have one of its kin, a Bluetooth.) Note the use of it as a new verb in the sentence below:

Jane couldn't respond to the begging vagrant because she was deeply jawboned in conversation with her mother.

Do you see what this implies here? What the wireless earpiece has done to our culture? Suggestions to contribute to this post are not just welcomed, but requested. And to my wonderful friend David at 80 West: This means you in particular!

1 comment:

  1. I love the way words are transformed. Reading older books you can see that happen.

    Last night I read, "In black fantastic shapes, dumb shadows crawl into the corners of the room and crouch there."

    I was in my 20's when I ran into the Denver Dumb Friends League and learned "dumb" originally meant unable to speak and not a slur.


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