Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Words: Nominalizations

Language grow and morphs and changes, over both time and place.  And then of course, slang gives language a kick or a boost, depending on your point of view. New words are added to English via science and technology and as a result of globalization. And then there are words that evolve - either with a new use or a new meaning - as a result of being cute, or as part of industry jargon, or because of advertisers.

A recent piece in the New York Times talked about verbs being recast as nouns. 

Take the word "ride" for example.  It's a verb, an action word.  Over time, "ride" has morphed into a noun.  Example: "Dave has a new car.  It's a really cool ride.  His new ride cost $30K.  He took me for a ride in his new ride.

And then there's "read" - and all you fellow writers and bookworms out there are certainly familiar with it.  Example: "Have you read the new Stephen King novel?  It's a great read.  This read was so compelling that I read it all night!"  

Just think for a minute about a website familiar to many of you:  GoodReads.   The site isn't called GoodBooks or GoodNovels, but GoodReads

I both love and hate nominalizations of verbs.  The more annoying examples are in cases where a perfectly suitable noun already exists.  The word "reveal" is a case in point.  

Example: "At the end of the show, the magician will reveal his secrets!  Don't miss out on the reveal!"

In the above case, why not use the word "revelation"?

As a writer, I'm happy to add new words to my toolbox, and I'm all in favour of taking artistic license.  It also goes without saying that I enjoy seeing language being used creatively.  However, in my opinion, many instances of verbs as nouns are a tad lazy or a tad sloppy.  If you reach - really reach - for the right word, it's probably out there.  But if it's not, then go ahead and use an invent!

Read the NY Times piece that inspired today's blog post:

1 comment:

  1. Using the trends for words is a good way of capturing voice. I guess it can also date work too.