Column - Don't verb your wordsThrough the years, sports writers have been given much more leniency with the English language than other writers, and I’ve taken advantage of that opportunity many times to liven up stories.
By: Lori Mork, Alexandria Echo Press
Through the years, sports writers have been given much more leniency with the English language than other writers, and I’ve taken advantage of that opportunity many times to liven up stories.
I’ve allowed batters to “pound out a homer,” “rack up a win” or “snag a line drive,” but I’ve tried to make sure that nouns and verbs are used correctly.
Lately, however, sportscasters have begun to give the rest of us a bad name, twisting the English language into some strange animal, especially with their attempts to turn nouns into verbs.
When I heard the word efforting, I was dumbfounded.
Sports radio host Dan Patrick asked one of his sidekicks to contact a celebrity for the show, to which the sidekick replied, “I am efforting to do so.”
I know it’s been many years since I’ve been in an English classroom, but I think that someone would have sent out a memo if our language had changed that much, so I began searching the Internet for some information.
Here’s what I found. The Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) had four possible definitions, but this was my favorite.
“Efforting – A made up word used only by newscasters to show off that they’re doing the job they’re paid to do. A poor attempt to make the word effort into a verb. To make it sound like something simple is tough to do, so they’re making extra effort. Often used as a stall when a report isn’t ready.”
I then found this wonderful website, Everything Language and Grammar, (www.languageandgrammar.com) that actually had an entire article on the word.
Here’s what this site had to say:
“Two of the most popular trends in language are: 1) turning nouns into verbs and 2) making the argument that common usage is all that is needed in order for a word to become accepted. The non-word efforting is a good example of both.
“Effort is a noun, meaning (for this discussion) an exertion of strength or power either in a physical or mental sense. Examples include it was an effort to mow the lawn and solving that math problem was quite an effort. Effort is not a verb meaning to exert an effort, so statements such as I’m efforting to get the project done on time is an incorrect way to use the word effort.
From Paul Yeager of “Literally, the Best Language Book Ever: Annoying Words and Abused Phrases You Should Never Use Again.”
Another particularly offensive usage, at least to me, is the improper use of America and American.
“Senior forward Brett Winkelman of North Dakota State is the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America of the Year for the University division in men’s basketball.” From ESPN.com February 26, 2009
Hmmm, I didn’t know that a person could be an “America.” I always thought I was an “American.”
And no, it’s not a typo. The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) have actually trademarked the phrase “Academic All-America,” although I can’t imagine why.
I recently found a Calvin and Hobbs cartoon that summed it all up perfectly.
“I like to verb words,” says Calvin.
“What?” Hobbs asks.
“I take nouns and adjectives and use them as verbs,” Calvin replies. “Remember when ‘access’ was a thing? Now it’s something you do. It got verbed.
“Verbing weirds language,” he adds.
Says Hobbs, “Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding.”