On ADS-L recently, first a report by Jon Lighter on the verbing to turkey-peek, based on the remarkable compound turkey peek (roughly) ‘peeking by a turkey’ (but understood metaphorically), which led Bill Mullins to note the semantically similar verbing to prairie-dog, based on the compound prairie dog ‘(metaphorical) dog of/from the prairie’. In both cases, what is indexed in the verbing is the characteristic motion of a creature — of a turkey peeking around a corner, of a prairie dog popping its head out of its burrow.
Archive for the ‘Verbings’ Category
From my friend Max yesterday (lightly edited):
On a cooking show last Saturday (America’s Test Kitchen, or Cook’s Country), someone used the term soggen (as in “crisp up the cookies or they’ll soggen”) and we couldn’t decide if it was a real word.
That’s the inchoative soggen ‘become soggy’ — comprehensible (and somewhat playful in tone), but not attested in the OED, nor have I been able to find any other examples on the net. Normally, however, there would be no question about its being a “real word”, since derivatives using productive suffixes are unquestionably words, even if they haven’t been attested or you haven’t experienced them. (Those of us who collect verbings with the suffixes –ify and -ize are forever coming across novel examples — from my files, Dowdify, referring to Maureen Dowd, and Vermontize. Dictionaries couldn’t possibly list all possible examples, nor should they try.)
But … inchoative / causative –en is not productive, as I explained in a 5/28/13 posting on inchoative louden. So new examples of these formations are surely words — people use them and understand them — but they aren’t OLFESCs (as in my 4/21/10 posting “Do languages get (all) the words they need?”), ordinary-language fixed expressions of some currency, since they fail the “of some currency” test. Vast numbers of words (technical terms, jargon, dialect words, slang words restricted to small social groups, archaic words, and much more) are not OLFESCs.
Now to inchoative / causative -en.
Two cases of the verbing of composite nominals that have recently come past me:
Adj + N free ride > to free-ride (1)
N + N fireside chat > to fireside chat (2)
Now, verbing is all over the place, but these two are especially easy, because the head N of the source composite (bold-faced above) is in fact the nouning of a corresponding V (to ride > a ride; to chat > a chat), so that the verb is in a sense instantly available.