Short shot #20: California + ify

Suppose you want to convert the noun California into a verb meaning ’cause to be like California’ or ’cause to be like Californians’. English has several productive schemes for N-to-V conversion, among them (all examples made up so as to make them parallel):

zero derivation (direct conversion): They are trying to Manhattan Palo Alto.

suffixation with -ize: They are trying to Manhattanize Palo Alto.

suffixation with -ify: They are trying to Manhattanify Palo Alto.

suffixation with -ic-ate: They are trying to Manhattanicate Palo Alto.

Zero derivation is the least satisfactory of these alternatives, because it allows for such a wide range of interpretations, but the other three are causative. My impression is that -ic-ate is by far the least frequent formation for N-to-V innovations (though it’s not really possible to search specifically for innovations). But -ize and -ify are both frequent in this function.

Both -ize and -ify are somewhat uncomfortable with bases that end in a vowel, especially an unaccented vowel, especially schwa (as in California); Californiaify is awkward indeed, though there are a few hits for it, like this one:

How is my lil’ Californiaified-​Akronite doing!? (link)

Usually the base is simplified to some degree. Here’s Californiafy from Paul Krugman’s NYT column on November 9 (“Paranoia Strikes Deep”):

… what we may be seeing is America starting to be Californiafied.

Or, more often hiatus is avoided completely by further reduction, in Californify:

At any rate, not only am I Californified, but apparently Pico is too. The dog that used to race out into the rain has developed some pretty refined tastes when it comes to weather … (link)

Anna Friel has been…Californified? Okay, that’s not even a word — Californified! Hah. But really, how would you call it? (link)

Note the recognition in this last quote that the verb is an innovation.

10 Responses to “Short shot #20: California + ify”

  1. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    As you might expect, the Ghit champ appears to be Californicate and its variations.

  2. Eyoki Says:


  3. Eyoki Says:

    Ah, I see someone’s suggested it already!

  4. John Lawler Says:

    Goes back at least to the Tom Lehrer era. The pun on ‘fornicate’ is too tempting.

  5. Daniel Says:

    This is obviously related to Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Californication, isn’t it?

  6. mollymooly Says:

    If the fifth most plausible proposed etymology of “California” is correct, then both -forn- components come from the same root.

    cf another 90s rock album, “Pornograffitti”.

  7. creepitude « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] some discussion, see my posting on "California + ify" and the comments on it. The current popularity of Californication seems to be […]

  8. Two things to play with « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” (which has come up on this blog twice, here and […]

  9. Pepsification « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] see links here — we haven’t had a lot to say about -ify and -ification (but see my brief posting on Californa-ify and its alternatives). Here’s a random assortment of these derivative […]

  10. The velocitized Toad « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] for causative verbing of nouns and adjectives — zero derivation, -ize, -ify, -ic-ate — here, and a survey of -ify words […]

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