Thursday, May 22, 2014

When Nouns Become Verbs

I sometimes like it.

Probably not always. Most of the examples that I can think of off the top of my head have to do with emerging technologies. "Facebook me."  "I'll Google it."  These are okay--short and also specific, which I respect.  Though I'm not a fan of saying "google" for "search" if Google is not the search engine, as that is kind of misleading instead of specific.

What I really like--and what has me writing on this topic to begin with-- is when the language is used more playfully and willfully, so that it has poetry as well as efficiency.  I recently read Karen Russell's Sleep Donation and jotted down two examples:

"We moth along toward the lights."

"Moth along." Kind of great, right?  She's describing human beings at a night market.  It evokes a different visual image and / or sense of intent from "walking", or "traveling" or "moving"--this is more haphazard.  And there's mood too--a sense of danger, of bad judgement in action.  For a short phrase it does a lot of work.

Here's another: "She has to houdini out of her restraints."

Not just struggle or wiggle--though certainly we feel wiggling is part of it. But we feel that "she" has a willfulness, and intent to escape her restraints such that she is doing something a little outside the possible.  Like Houdini.
Do you salad or sandwich? The verbing of English

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