Friday, October 03, 2008

Verbification run amok

Last week I attended a talk given in one of our humanities departments. About halfway through, I realized that the talk and the questions from the gallery contained an inordinate amount of verbs that used to be only nouns. For example, we don't cast an issue as a problem, rather we problematize it.

Now I wanted to be snarky (now that's a good word!) and tell them that I enjoyed lunchifying while they were lecturizing, but I make up so many words out of ignorance that I'm not in a place to criticize others.

Here's my question: why? What purpose does this serve? My guess is that it's a way of showing expertise, sort of like hypercorrections.

Any thoughts?


PRT said...

But look at how many fewer words it takes to say "problematize" insteads "cast an issue as a problem" (and actually I'm not sure that problematize means quite that--I think it means closer to "complicate an issue in such a way as it becomes a problem when before we thought it was simple and not a problem").

Not saying it's right, but it is occasionally more efficient. And I personally think it's Derrida's fault. No evidence whatsoever, but somehow I feel it's all his fault.

Brad Wright said...

Hm-m-m, maybe we'll end up with English being like German, where we keep on adding to a word to give it a more specific meaning.

-Garza said...

I just think that it further shows our shift toward technology. With information at our fingertips more readily than ever before, we want to be able to communicate in an equally efficient manner. While not quite on the same level, text messages have adopted this brevity as well. It seems that the goal is to say as much as possible in as few words as possible. I guess in that sense it could be viewed as slightly poetic. I’d prefer that we didn’t quite make a move toward German. Although, I took it freshman year and I did love how efficient it was (overhead projector = tageslichtprojektor).