Friday, November 09, 2007

Any Noun Can be Verbed

One of the things I do in my (ha!) spare time is watch birds. I have loads of bird feeders here at the house and supply the local birds with a variety of foods. Because I'm interested in birds, bird watching and conservation, I look in on a couple of bird watching blogs.

One disturbing trend I have discovered in US bird blogs is that the word bird is now used as an intransitive verb. "I am going to bird on the weekend." I never heard the word being used as a verb before I left the US fifteen plus years ago. Back then it was just a plain old noun. It looked odd and wrong to me and I kept seeing it happen.

It was the use of the word bird as a verb in a blog where the language and grammar are very good that led me to investigate further. I looked it up in my dictionary here at the house, the Oxford Concise Dictionary and the word bird is listed as a noun only. I was all set to flame a hole in a bird blogger when I decided had better get another source just to have all my facts. I used an American based online dictionary and lo and behold the word bird is not only a noun but a verb as well. Oh my God! That use of the word is in common use!

I will now hold my tongue and not blast the bird blogger for using the word bird as a transitive verb, however I will still hold on to my private view that using the word bird as a verb sounds uneducated, awkward and just plain wrong. As my friend David says, "Verbing wierds lanuguage." Perhaps it is living in the United Kingdom for so long that makes me bristle at people playing fast and loose, verbing nouns willy nilly.

For me, I will never use the word bird as a verb. I will go bird watching because I am a bird watcher. I will not bird because I am a birder. Through my investigations I have discovered that it is a perfectly acceptable and recognized use of the word, I will not flame anybody for using bird as a verb. Be warned however, I will think to myself that you are an ignoramus and right down there with people who end their sentences with prepositions.

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