We’re All Verbs Now


Maybe, maybe not. Are there any English speakers today who don’t accept text as a verb? It was an easy move to permit text as a verb, follownig the paradigm of other communication channel noun-verb pairs in English — the mail/I mailed, the phone/you phoned,  her email/she emailed,  the wire/they wired (older technology, but same idea).

What about transportation nouns?  We have plane and train and also deplaning and detraining which refer to the punctual (not ongoing) activity of exiting planes and trains. But, somehow the opposite punctual activity is not available as a plain verb:

*We plane the flight for Denver in an hour

*They’re announcing training at Gate 7 now.

A different verb board is required here. For some speakers, the plain verb forms do imply an ongoing activity:

We trained to Chicago instead of driving.

But what about

?? They’re planing to Stockholm next week.

And there is

Demonstrators were bussed to the march from outlying cities.

but not

*The tour group has just debussed at the Roman ruin.

*We decided to decar at the next rest stop on the Interstate.

We can bell a cat and towel ourselves off, but we cannot ring our finger (put on a ring) or scarf our hair, and although we can shoe a horse, we can’t sneaker, boot, heel or shoe ourselves (put on foot gear).

When did medal become a verb? It has restricted usage, implying victory in a competition, often the Olympics

They are hoping she will medal in all three of her events.

What about an event that is described as an acronym, e.g., IPO?  An example of using this acronym (Initial Public Offering) as a verb did jar the linguistic sensibilities of a tech-savvy geek.

*?? She will IPO someday.

Is the following any more acceptable?

?? Not many companies IPOed this year.

Are there other acronyms that work as verbs in English? Laser is a noun acronym: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. But, does laser appear as a verb? The following excerpts are from online stories.

He’s getting his eyes lasered.

The lasering of a large passenger plane was reported.

And of course a proper name, Google, is showing up all the time as a verb:

Just google it for the directions.

Is it just frequency of usage that is winning the day for some verbalizations? There is so much language output being generated every hour and every day by billions of language users. Does this output spread wavelike through the vast digital universe we now inhabit, or does it travel along specialized conduits, more like a circulatory system?  It would be interesting to get an accurate measure of the speed at which new word forms are entering a given language, and to define what ‘entering the language’ means in this modern era of instant digital communication.

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