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Dec 30, 2007


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Margaret Banks

Oh, Ed. Dear, sweet Ed. You just used Netflix as a verb. Sigh. Reckon I'll have to learn to live with that, huh?

David Wharton

Margaret: surely you don't really object to conversion (or "verbification")?

Without it, we couldn't pepper (ahem) our language with new and interesting words. For example, a little OEDing shows me that the verb "test" was converted from the noun, and was originally considered an "Americanism."

If I had been Ed, though, I probably would have verbed the singular form of the noun: netflicked.

Margaret Banks

Hmmm. Good point, DW. I do like the spicy language. And I wasn't aware of how many traditional nouns have been verb-afied. If verbification is good enough for old Willie Shakespeare, well, then who am I to judge?

But new uses grate on my nerves. I am just coming to terms with using Google as a verb. Until recently I would say, even in casual conversation, "I did a Google search and ..."

We should have a moritorium on verbification. No more from this moment ... right ... NOW.

I come by these quirks honestly. My late mother, a community college English teacher, would yell at the Sunday football announcers every week: "It's times out, you fools, not timeouts. There are two TIMES OUT remaining!!!"

So for David Wharton, I guess Margaret Banks is the new Mike Clark, huh?

Gotta go Bruegger now. Talk to you later.

Ed Cone

I tend to stickle when it comes to grammar, but I'm willing to neologize when it seems to serve a purpose (including the purpose of amusing myself).

Sometimes I think I'm making up a word but then discover it's been around for a while, and sometimes I discover that I disapprove of a usage with a history.

"Google" has been a verb for so long that the noun has morphed into "the Google."

David Wharton

Margaret, I like you too much to give you a full Clarking. Besides, you know where I live.

I disagree with your mom about "time out." It's definitely not like "court martial," which is a kind of court with a Frenchified (I think) post-noun adjective. (And if you ask me -- thanks for asking! -- "courts martial" and "attorneys general" are a bit pretentious, since they're both pretty much compound nouns by now, and we normally put the plural marker at the end of compounds.)

Since "time out" is a noun-adverb formation, it's more like "cut-off" or "push-up," and no one says, or would say, "how many pairs of cuts-off do you own?" or "how many pushes-up can you do?"

And as for that moratorium on conversion ... good luck. Let me give you a caveat (oops! verb-to-noun conversion!) -- it's a little like standing in the surf and telling the waves to stop breaking.

Margaret Banks

On a somewhat related subject ... this site is really neat. Didn't answer my question about timeouts/times out, but I learned a lot of other cool things!


And DW ... you're right. I know where you live, and I might come "egg" your house!


"I might come "egg" your house!"

Paper it instead. It's much more difficult to clean up.

Margaret Banks

Excellent suggestion, Bubba. I have some expertise in that area, as a matter of fact. I just can't run away as quickly as I used to!


Does the Xerox Company still have its lawyers send letters to papers that use the company name as a verb? The DTH used to have a bulletin board covered with cease and desist letters describing the great sums of money spent developing name recognition and decrying the erosion of copyright; I always thought this sort of conversion just proved it was money well spent, but evidently the lawyers disagreed.


Just a quick drive by from a commenter-turned-lurker to say Happy New Year everyone!


J. Neas

In the meantime, I'll note that I love Sunset Boulevard. I saw it at the Carolina Theatre a few years ago and went head over heels for it.

As a tangent on the 'Netflix' comment, I actually catch myself thinking it wrong when people refer to their Blockbuster list instead of a Netflix queue. I know they are separate online entities and that it's correct, but still. Preference, I suppose.

By the way, when Netflix gets this rolling, I may never leave my house.

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