Grammarians with a grudge

My friend Tom (aka “The Blogfodder”) has been at it again.

Today’s treasure came in two parts: First, he sent me a link to a wonderful Boston Globe article about the prevalence of “verbing.” I absolutely loved Erin McKean’s practical perspective:

Objections to verbification in English tend to be motivated by personal taste, not clarity. Verbed words are usually easily understood. When a word like friend is declared not a verb, the problem isn’t that it’s confusing; it’s that the protester finds it deeply annoying.

The second half of the treasure came by way of, courtesy of one of the aforementioned deeply annoyed protesters.

To prove his point, the grumpy grammarian attempts to conjugate “login” in the past tense:
I logined, we logined, you logined, he/she logined, they logined.

“But isn’t it technically a two-part verb?” I wondered, as I considered logging off. I shortly found his response:

Some grammarians will call this a “phrasal” or “two-part” verb, but this is mostly because some grammarians are seeking tenure at their university posts and must publish anything they can to get or keep that coveted teaching spot.

Yikes! I’m glad he’s not my editor.

The whole debate reminded of a classic Calvin and Hobbes strip in which Calvin declares that “verbing weirds language.”

The question is: Does it also pervert and dilute a language? Or does verbing actually make a language more practical, clear and concise?

Please weigh in. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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