LINGUIST List 10.84

Tue Jan 19 1999

Disc: New: Adjective to Verb

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <scottlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Mike_Maxwell, New discussion: Adj to Verb

Message 1: New discussion: Adj to Verb

Date: Tue, 12 Jan 1999 11:19:47 -0500 (EST)
From: Mike_Maxwell <Mike_MaxwellSIL.ORG>
Subject: New discussion: Adj to Verb

I once had a non-native speaker of English tell me that "in English,
you can verb almost anything." I've noticed over the years many such
on-the-fly uses of nouns as verbs, but I don't recall running into any
new uses of adjectives as verbs. Then today I ran into the following
(in an Internet discussion of using the Microsoft Word program):

 In documents Newed from this template...
 [I] then tried a) attaching that template to existing documents,
 b) Newing a document from that template...

(The context is that in Word, if you create a document template with
certain properties, you can then create new documents having these
properties by clicking on a menu choice labeled "New".)

Now that I've seen such a usage, it strikes me as odd that Adj-->Verb
coinings are (apparently) rarer than Noun-->Verb coinings, since
adjectives are in some sense "between" nouns and verbs. (For
instance, in Chomsky's "Remarks on Nominalization" paper, nouns are
[+N -V], verbs are [-N +V], and adjectives are [+N +V]. Likewise, in
many languages adjective-like words are morphosyntactically nouns,
while in other languages they act like verbs.) One might therefore
think novel deadjectival verb usages would be more common, not less.

 
Mike Maxwell
Mike_Maxwellsil.org
Summer Institute of Linguistics
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