Annals of nouning (the ADS-L volume)

I don’t try to keep track of all the direct conversions of verbs to nouns that come my way — that would be an overwhelming task — but in the last few days two nounings that I didn’t recall having seen before came up on ADS-L: one used unreflectingly by a poster, the other deliberately coined, with somewhat different histories, but both now reasonably frequent.

Nouning #1: recommend. This morning Judy Prince complimented Amy West on her summary of the good points of MWDEU, saying:

Wonderfully clear, succinct recommend, Amy.

The OED (draft revision June 2009) has an entry for the noun recommend taking it back to the 16th century. There are two senses: ‘act of recommending’, which doesn’t seem to have made it past the 16th century; and ‘a recommendation’ (Prince’s sense), marked as originally Scots, now colloquial (and more general), with cites from c1550 through 2007.

Nouning #2: predict. Two days ago Joel Berson quoted from the NYT obit for Alexander Haig:

Reagan’s aide Lyn Nofziger once said, that “the third paragraph of his obit” would detail his conduct in the hours after President Reagan was shot, on March 30, 1981.

and added playfully, in imitation of Haigspeak:

I congratulationize Tim Weiner for trueing that predict.  The third paragraph of his obituary begins: ‘That day, Secretary of State Haig wrongly declared himself the acting president…’

Today Berson added:

I’m shocked, shocked, that my pseudo-Alexander Haigravation of “predict” from verb into noun (in an earlier message to this list) has a pre-existence — Shakespeare, of course.  But it’s the only citation in the OED!

Well, this looks like an innovation of Shakespeare’s that never went anywhere; probably it got into the OED only because it came from Shakespeare’s pen.

But, like many other earlier nounings that vanished at some time in the past, predict ‘a prediction, predictor’ has revived. There are lots of Google hits in medical contexts, as in this article title cited here:

Lima CS, Bottini PV, Garlipp CR, Samtos AO, Costa FF, Saad ST. Accuracy of the urinary albumin to creatinine ratio as a predict of albuminuria in adults with sickle cell disease. J Clin Pathol Dec;55(12):973-5, 2002.

plus a fair number of uses in other scientific and technical contexts. But there are many other, decidedly less technical, occurrences:

Mute [a musical group]
Description: “mute” should be a predict of calm and silence. But not here ! (link)

But i still want to predict the ending of saw 6 may be like this, could you all try to give a predict of the ending? I knew saw agent had given some predict of his previous post. (link)

but I still say that this is going to be somewhere in the vicinity of a mid 30’s game, someone posted a predict of 35-28 and I’ll tell you what, thats a pretty good guess IMO. (link)

Some days I think we’re living in a Golden Age of Nouning.

5 Responses to “Annals of nouning (the ADS-L volume)”

  1. Ian Preston Says:

    I was more taken by the verbing of “true”. I think I might have heard it before in the mechanical sense of “make level or precise” but never in the sense used here.

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Ian Preston:

    Remember that Berson’s sentence is an invention, a parody. He composed it in the obvious belief that the items congratulationalize (verb), true (verb) ‘prove true, verify’, and predict (noun) ‘prediction’ do not already exist in English, and then was surprised to discover that OED2 had one cite for the noun (but only one, from Shakespeare). (As it happens, the OED has one cite for the verb true, from 1647, but marks it as obsolete and rare. Congratulationalize isn’t in the OED, but there’s one, though only one, Google hit for this playful item.)

  3. Ian Preston Says:

    Remember that Berson’s sentence is an invention, a parody.

    Yes, that was how I took it but as you say “predict” as a noun is also parody and that has appeared in several places. It is not easy to tell but I take the 1647 cite to have the sense “check the truth of” rather than Berson’s sense of “act so as to make true.”

  4. Joel Berson Says:

    I certainly agree it is not easy to tell what Shakespeare meant by his “predict” noun — and no one else has said it in the intervening 400 years to help us out! But if the OED is right that he is using it as a noun, it can’t have the meaning of the verbal phrases “check the truth of” or “act so as to make true.”

  5. John Lawler Says:

    I recall from my years in N. Utah in the late ’60s that the noun recommend had considerable local currency among LDS to refer to the warrant from a bishop (the head of a ward, equivalent administratively to a parish priest) that someone was a member in good standing. A bishop’s recommend was necessary for a lot of Temple ceremonies, and it was never called a recommendation. I didn’t investigated to see how old it was in that use, but it was certainly universal, at least among LDS members.

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