I love a little twitter I read today, in which Debra Huron cites Richard Nordquist’s “What is verbing?”. Nordquist explains that in contemporary speech and writing, we constantly turn nouns into verbs.
Here is an example of verbing: “I coached a team of energy economists all day yesterday on an annual report they are teaming-up on.” In that sentence, I convert a noun, coach, into a verb, coached. I also convert the noun, team, into the verb, team-up.” Pretty typical stuff.
We all do this, every day. Especially if we work in the corporate world, spawning ground for verbing. This seems familiar and a little fun. Except when it turns into a problem.
Prepping to meet energy writers yesterday, I turned up many samples of this habit. Here is one:
“Management suggests we one-time downsize the window, rather than try to pre-Cluster 5 continuing downsizing design features that must converge with processes for Cluster 5 and subsequent clusters.”
In that example, I think you can see why verbing can create trouble. Often, corporate writers turn longish noun phrases into verb phrases, within sentences that are already full of very-long noun phrases. This makes it very hard to know what they mean. I get a little tempted to circular-file the thing, in fact:)
We talk a lot about avoiding jargon in corporate writing. One way to do that is to use real and familiar verbs, rather than to engage in endless verbing.
Do you have any good examples? I would love to see them.