Don’t Let Functional Variation Torch Your Thanksgiving Turkey


5.31 It is fairly common in English for nouns to pass into use as verbs; it always has been.

The Chicago Manual of Style

Maybe, but it’s also fairly annoying. This occurs to me as the holidays loom and I resolve that if anyone “gifts” me anything next month I’m going to spit eggnog in their face.

In fairness, it’s subjective which noun-to-verb functional variations work and which don’t. Yes, I Google and friend like any red-blooded American who wastes too much time online, and I don’t think twice about handing you the rake so you can rake the toilet paper those little punks rolled our house with.

A good article in More Intelligent Life presents this fun factoid:

“Some lovers of the language deplore the whole business of verbing (Benjamin Franklin called it “awkward and abominable” in a letter to Noah Webster, the lexicographer, in 1789). . .”

If he wasn’t a fan of this sort of manipulation, I wonder how the elder statesman would have reacted to Philadelphia’s “Benergy” fiasco. I digress…

What do you think separates a good noun-verb functional variation from a ridiculous one?

What Obamacare and Snap Polling Tell Us About Prepositional Phrases


“Alexi Halavazis, 25, also of Herndon, Va., cast his first presidential vote for Obama. He said the reason was Obama’s health care law, which allows him to be covered by his parents’ medical coverage. With ‘Obamacare. I can stay on my parents plant (sic), at least for another year, and it helps my parents because of the pre-existing conditions’ requirement that they cannot be denied health care, Halavazis said.'”

-USA Today

Isn’t it weird how that quotation from Alexi Halavazis  beginning “Obamacare” is presented up there? I’m not implying anything was taken out of context or otherwise fudged by the reporters (two names are in the article’s byline), but what an awkward way of making it flow with the rest of the narrative.

I presume the reporters asked Mr. Halavazis some version of “Why did you vote for Obama?” and his response was “Obamacare. I can stay…”. But then , by summarizing the quote before actually presenting it, they put themselves in the situation of needing to make the quote a prepositional phrase.

Weirdness ensued.

Is there a better-written alternative to what ended up getting published? These come to mind:

  1. Ditch the summary of the quote, and just put the quote up top. “…vote for Obama, because of ‘Obamacare. I can stay…” This may not be best practices from a journalistic standpoint, and the reporters certainly know more than I do about that sort of thing.
  2. Place “With” inside the quotation mark. Probably not ethical.
  3. Make the period after “Obamacare” a comma. Also maybe not so ethical, though in speech, can’t commas sound like periods sometimes? How full was the stop in his voice after he said “Obamacare.”


Anyway, it’s a quickie article on the biggest content-barrage evening in America. Let’s enjoy our election night parties and not split too many hairs.

On the other hand, gotta love their typo about staying on his “parent’s plant”.