The English language is always in a constant state of flux. New words are created all the time and old ones disappear. In recent years, one trend that has become very noticeable, and not always welcomed by all, is the changing of nouns into verbs. In English, it’s easy to do this because the base forms of verbs don’t need special endings. Also, one of the reasons why verbed nouns are so popular is that they are so easily understood Some people think verbing makes what you say sound more original, vibrant and to the point. Others deplore it.
Verbing or, what grammarians refer to as denominalization, is not new. It has been part of the English grammar for many centuries. We’ve already become used to more recent denominalisations like – to pencil in – e.g. ‘I’ll pencil you in for 3pm.’ – or – to impact – e.g.‘ That will significantly impact the company’s sales.’ Some of these inventions can be quite annoying or even considered to be an abomination, like – to dialogue – e.g. ‘Let’s dialogue about this tomorrow.’
Here are a few more examples from the business world –
To trend / to statement / to evidence / to flipchart / to incentivize / to showcase / to action / to task / to transition / to workshop / to table / to calendar / to action / to fast-track / to prioritize / to beef up / to Xerox.
The primary cause of the recent rapid increase in verbing is technology. Potential changes in our language are picked up and rapidly repeated all around the world. Examples from technology include –
To text from a mobile / to bookmark a website / to inbox an email contact / to friend or defriend someone on Facebook / to like (the action, not the feeling) / to blog about a subject / to ebay a product / to skype someone/ to whatsapp someone / to google something.
This process can be found in all areas of activity, from family life, where mothers and fathers now parent, to our leisure time when we Netfix and chill, or our holidays when we Airbnb our accommodation and summer or winter in a place.
Here are just a few more examples from the world of sport –
To rollerblade / to skateboard / to snowboard / to zorb – all come from the names of equipment.
Football referees card players. Athletes podium and medal in events, racing drivers pit, golfers par and coastal divers tombstone.
Reading from top to bottom and back
Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don’t try to convince me that
There’s something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don’t last.
And it’s not true that
It’s all in the heart and mind
True happiness can be obtained
Only if one’s surroundings are good
It’s not true that good exists
I’m sure you can agree that
It’s all beyond my control
And you’ll never in a million years hear me say that
Today was a good day
Now read from bottom to top.