Friday, September 07, 2012

In which Jo gets a little pissy about language.


Gifted (passive voice).


When did "gift" become a verb? When did it become acceptable to say that your mother-in-law gifted you with a Precious Moments figurine? How is it okay to say that something is good for gifting or is giftable?

And when did skirting start describing pieces of fabric with buttons at the top? Skirting is either something one does around an issue, or vinyl sold by the linear (not lineal) foot at the mobile-home dealership. One buys a skirt. One does not purchase skirting to wear on one's body, unless one is suiting up for a particularly bizarre costume party. (Halloween costumation ideas, right here on Headly Nursingtons!)

A million years ago, my parents would sit around the breakfast table in their bathrobes, reading out loud from the Wretched-Comical, our local newspaper. Dad went into fits one day over the headline "GIFTABLE SWEATERING," then read the accompanying ad copy out loud with hoots and snorts. I think it might've been 1980 or thereabouts; my sister was home for Christmas break from college. She, being the English major in the house, had lots to say about giftable sweatering.

Then, about a month ago, somebody on my beloved Hairpin used the term "for gifting." The somebody in question was an actual contributor, not a commenter, and nobody called her out on it. Nobody. "Gifting" was okay.

I felt a little like I'd been dropped into a reality I wasn't familliar with. With which I wasn't familliar; whatever. I'm not opposed to splitting the infinitive if it makes reading easier.

I am, however, opposed to gifting and skirting.

(Before anybody asks, yes, I'm poncy about "nursing" as a job description as well. "Nursing" feels like it ought to be limited to breasts and babies. "Being a Nurse is My Bag" doesn't flow, though, and looks crappy on a reusable grocery sack. Yeah, I'm weird.

At least I'll never turn "surgeon" or "patient care aide" into verbs. That's my promisation.)


lisak said...

Signage drives me crazy. We create a sign or hang a sign or look for a sign. When did it become signage?

Contingent Cassandra said...

I've seen shirting (the fabric out of which one makes shirts) in fabric stores, but I'm not sure whether I've seen skirting. In any case, it would refer to the raw material, not the finished product.

And I, too, wince at "gifting," "gifted," etc., which, sadly, has invaded some liturgical contexts ("God gifted us with a savior," and so on; I'd much prefer "gave" or "sent" or something along those lines).

Brian said...

If we don't verb "surgeon," how will we vocabulate the action of surgerizing?

Rosanna said...

This nifty/jazzy Harold Arlen/E.Y. Harburg "wordplay" song----(sung here by the great Ethel Waters in 1942)----would also probably drive your Dad and sister *c.r.a.z.y.*, too, Jo!!:



messymimi said...

This English major is wondering what dreadful thing they will do to our beautiful language next. Sob.

And i agree, i always try to avoid the word nursing when describing the job of being a nurse.

Anonymous said...

I can't stand "signage" either. There's a member of our church who uses that all the time. We need signage to advertise our flea market. Makes me cringe every time. We could all go to the flea market to get some giftable skirtage. That was so hard to write, autocorrect wouldn't let me use those words.

Anonymous said...

My favorite peeve: misuse of the word orient.

We orient new staff, we do not "orientate" them.

We have orientation, but this is a process in which we orient new staff.

Comrade Physioprof said...

And i agree, i always try to avoid the word nursing when describing the job of being a nurse.

What would be the alternative for naming schools where nurses study? Because all of the ones I am aware of are called "Such-And-So School of Nursing".

RehabRN said...

Anon: I'm with you on orientated.

Just like "bidness" and other mispronunciations.

Heaven help us all. So glad my eighth grade English teacher isn't around...OMG!

EDNurseasauras said...

Worst of all: "Friend me"

Allison said...

I worked at Boeing for a very long time. It's an environment with its own language. People say things such as "calendarize that schedule", or "unique that for me" (as in give it a primary key in a database), or "surplus that desk" - where surplus is a verb. One day I was writing something and couldn't figure out how to spell the past tense of surplus. Looked it up, and was reminded that surplus is an adjective. Verbing is insidious.

memune said...

Somewhere I have an old Calvin & Hobbes cartoon that says "Verbing Weirds Language."

Woe be unto him (gifting him with woeing?) who used "party" as a verb in my hearing ...

Crossation for my hearting!