Saturday, February 13, 2010

Turncoat Nouns

My mom sent me this terrific, humorous article from the New York Times about the word "podium" and how it's becoming a verb in Olympic and sports circles - think, "I didn't get gold, but at least I podiumed."

If this makes you cringe, I'm not surprised, but the article has a lovely perspective on this widespread tendency in English to convert nouns into verbs (party, surface, etc.).

The article is here.


  1. Ick. I'd just about reconciled myself to 'medal', please not 'podium' as well!

  2. All the people whining about this are silly. English has a long and glorious tradition of verbing nouns. It's part of our derivational morphology, and we should be embracing it as a way to coin new words without rooting for roots from other languages.

    There's a special circle in hell reserved for grammatical prescriptionists.

  3. PS I should know, I'm the one who reserved it. ;)

  4. Well, this is one thing that's bound to divide people. As a linguist, I tend to fall on the descriptive side, but that doesn't mean I don't find certain usages annoying. I've never heard "podiumed" in actual speech. "Surfaced" has been around for a long time. "Nuanced" is a participle that lies on the borderline between verb and adjective. "Googled" is extremely common these days... So while I agree that language change is constant and unavoidable, I feel for you nevertheless, hampshireflyer.