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Old 27th Jul 2011, 21:17   #9
Junior Palimpsestarian
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Join Date: 27 Apr 2011
Location: Inside my skin (Help!)
Posts: 144
Default Re: Annoying Americanisms? A rebuttal

Hi Ono, (or should I say "Hallo" instead?)
Your defense of the speech habits and mannerisms of your benighted brethren in the colonies is well appreciated. I had a whale of a time reading it! Thanks for that, too. You have a gift for puncturing the hyperbolic balloon of snark with wit which is as charming as it is sharp.

That said, I think #47 is worth another look: "to medal" is just one of (It seems to me) an increasing number of coinages of verbs from nouns for which there are already in the language perfectly adequate, and less deliberately odd, expressions (e.g. 'win a medal'). That is, they seem forced into being for emphasis, or just to be different. Sometimes these coinages, as you note above, are the products of business types who enjoy industry jargon, and sometimes it may be media spokesmen who ad lib, sometimes hilariously; but sometimes, I think, there is more behind it.

My favorite example is "reveal", used as a noun. What is wrong with "revelation"? My gut sense is that someone - likely in the writing programs, which now abound - decided that "revelation" carried too much of a religious/spiritual overtone to be generally useful, and opted for "reveal" as a neutral substitute. This may or may not be the history, but I think the tendency to alter words or adapt verbs to nouns for this kind of idiosyncratic accent is becoming quite common.(Maybe its a philosophical development: To each express our own individual 'truth' we need our own peculiar and idiosyncratic English!)

What part laziness or lack of proper grammatical education plays is still to be determined, but this much seems clear to me at least: people - whether American (only) or any other (as well) I don't know - are taking greater liberties with verb-noun derivations than they did previously. I am not saying that the phenomenon is new('To winter in the South is already old news.): but that it seems to me to be more pervasive than ever. It marks a subtle but, I think, intentional change in vernacular, the reason for which is a complete mystery to me.

I hope this has not taken us too far afield from your rebuttal. I thought someone with your obvious insight might shed some light on this, if you think it a real phenomenon and one that interests you. It may be a true Americanism!
Thanks again for the great fun and sharp insights, and best regards
"Anyone can run to excesses,
It is easy to shoot past the mark,
It is hard to stand firm in the middle." (E. Pound) | My Palimplist| Blog
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