Turning Nouns into Verbs

There is absolutely no doubt that language develops and changes. Some new uses for words and even the creation of brand new words is inevitable in the fast-moving world in which we live. Let’s face it, many of the words and phrases we use in connection with technology today would mean nothing to our grandparents or in some cases even to our parents.

The habit that annoys me though is the increasing tendency to turn nouns into verbs. Of course it is easier to say someone was “Helicoptered off a mountain” but they weren’t: they were “Flown off a mountain by helicopter”. It is only two more words to express it correctly and trying to make the name of an aircraft into a verb is just lazy and ugly. When someone asks how you travelled on your holiday do you say: “I was aeroplaned out of Heathrow”? Of course you don’t. You say “I flew out of Heathrow”. (It is an indication of how common place these non-verbs have become when my Google Chrome spell-checker underlines aeroplaned as a spelling mistake but not helicoptered!)

When a footballer commits a second bookable offence in a match I regularly hear the commentator announce that the player is about to be ‘red carded’. There is no such verb as ‘to card’ (although sadly golfers seem to think they may ‘card a four at this hole’) and certainly not one ‘to red-card’. To make matters worse, the player he injured in the tackle is then inevitably ‘stretchered off the pitch’!

When I first heard that someone was thinking of ‘texting’ someone else, I thought that invented verb was so horrendously ugly it would never catch on (thankfully Google Chrome still underlines it!) Sadly I think it is only a matter of time before the august Oxford English Dictionary enhances its current entry to include the word ‘text’ as a verb if it hasn’t already done so.

The above examples may not irritate any of you reading this (if anyone reads this of course!) but surely anyone with any feeling for the English Language winced when Olympic athletes spoked of being “medalled” or hoping “to podium” in a particular event.