Archive for the ‘Conversion’ Category

Why are they pets?

May 25, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

(Note the title: “Linguistics 101″.)

For the people:

We call them pets because we pet them.

For the cats:

We call them feeds because they feed us.

The two cases of nouning aren’t parallel, but reversed — in a sense, chiastic.

May 26th. Note of etymological truth, which I playfully omitted in the original posting. This is a cute story for pet, but it’s etymologically backwards. The noun came first, for ‘indulged child’, then for ‘animal companion’, and then the verb was derived from the noun, meaning something on the order of ‘to treat like a pet’, specifically ‘to stroke’.

Specialists in International

April 7, 2015

Slogan on the side of a DHL truck in Palo Alto:

DHL — YOUR SPECIALISTS IN INTERNATIONAL SINCE 1969

The adjective international is serving as a noun here, conveying something like ‘international shipping’ or ‘international mail’ or ‘international delivery’. Informally, this is “nouning by truncation”, but the implicit noun head isn’t uniquely identifiable.

Two pieces of background here: on “nouning by truncation” and on the DHL company and its slogans.

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to Birkenstock

March 21, 2015

It seems to be Verbing Day; maybe it has to do with the vernal equinox, which was yesterday. Earlier: to glowstick. And now: to Birkenstock, in a 3/23 New Yorker piece by Rebecca Mead, “Sole Cycle: The homely Birkenstock gets a fashion makeover”, about sandals. Shearling-lined Birkenstocks:

From p. 48 of the piece:

[David Kahan, who runs Birkenstock’s American division] explained that the boots and shoes arriving in stores this fall would still be recognizable as Birkenstocks but would capitalize on other trends in the marketplace. “I use ‘Birkenstock’ as a verb,” he said. “We did a sneaker bottom for spring — sneakers are a hot trend in the market, so we Birkenstocked it. We Birkenstocked Doc Martens; we Birkenstocked a motorcycle boot.” There was even a Birkenstocked Ugg: a fur-lined bootie with a ridged sneaker bottom and two sandal-like leather straps across the foot.

to glowstick

March 21, 2015

A scene in an old Criminal Minds show, caught this morning on tv: college kids on spring break on South Padre Island, dancing with glow sticks:

A glow stick is a self-contained, short-term light-source. It consists of a translucent plastic tube containing isolated substances that, when combined, make light through chemiluminescence, so it does not require an external energy source. The light cannot be turned off, and can be used only once. Glow sticks are often used for recreation, but may also be relied upon for light during military, police, fire, or EMS operations. (Wikipedia link)

The compound glow stick (or glowstick) has been verbed, with a full range of uses for the verb. (more…)

More on the sports interview

March 9, 2015

In a comment on a Bizarro cartoon on the vacuity of sports interviews (#2 here), Stan Carey supplies a fine VectorBelly strip on the subject:

(The verbing sports is entertaining.)

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Bromancing the Bone

March 8, 2015

My current favorite gay porn title of the outrageous pun variety: Romancing the Stone > Bromancing the Bone. We start with the portmanteau noun bromance. From Wikipedia:

A bromance is a close, emotionally-intense, non-sexual bond between two (or more) men. It is an exceptionally tight affectional, homosocial male bonding relationship that exceeds that of usual friendship

This can then be verbed and (separately) sexualized, to refer to what are sometimes called brolovers (there’s a brolovers site on tumblr, which has sexy images, many with a definitely romantic cast to them, as below).

That gets us to bromancing. Then the object bone, slang for an (erect) penis, which echoes the stone of the title Romancing the Stone and throws in some alliteration as well.

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Too much whelm

February 12, 2015

From Alon Lischinsky, this Questionable Content cartoon:

A straightforward route to the noun whelm: from overhelm, the verb whelm by back-formation, then nouning of this verb, to give the abstract mass noun whelm.

But this analysis is a bit hazy,

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V vs. N

February 2, 2015

A Bizarro from 2012 (send to me by a kind friend whose identity I have managed to lose):

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Verbing the Second Amendment

December 31, 2014

On ADS-L, a report from Wilson Gray of a headline

Gun-Nut 2nd-Amendments Wife to Death

(The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the “right to bear arms” amendment.)

I didn’t find Wilson’s source, but I did find something similar (by searching under “gun-nut second-amendments”), in this comment from John Clifford on Facebook about a story “One Policeman Dead, One Injured In Barracks Shooting”, here:

I get the whole laughing when a douchebag gun nut second amendments himself but a person being murdered while trying to do their job to protect us is never funny.

Meanwhile, Ben Zimmer linked on ADS-L to Nancy Friedman’s nominations for the ADS 2014 Words of the Year, with two more cites.

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Verbing awry

December 12, 2014

(Warning: sexually explicit language. Not for kids or the modest.)

Passed on by Robert Coren, this message from the South Dakota Office of Highway Safety:

Looks like they were aiming for the verbing jerk ‘be a jerk, be an obnoxious person’, but missed the potential ambiguity with the jerk of the sexual idiom jerk off ‘jack off, masturbate’.

[Correction: it seems I was wrong about the SDOHS’s intentions, though the ambiguity problem remains. Reader isotopeblue writes:

Actually, if you go to http://www.drivesafesd.com/, it appears they’re concerned with jerking the wheel, not verbing the noun “jerk” for an aggressive driver.]

[Further developments: Chris Ambidge on Facebook reports that they’ve pulled the ad.”Officials have admitted that the double entendre was intentional”, with this news report:

public safety campaign in South Dakota backfired when officials heard its “Don’t Jerk and Drive” push and forced them to pull the ad.
Officials admitted the double entendre was intentional, the Sioux Falls Argus-Leader reported in its story.
The campaign was based on raising awareness of jerking the steering wheel on icy roads. But, “jerk” also has other sexual meanings.
Department of Public Safety Secretary Trevor Jones said in a statement that he pulled the ad. “This is an important safety message, and I don’t want this innuendo to distract from our goal to save lives on the road.”

Several readers have noted that the story is a lot less fun if the double entendre was intentional.]

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