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Words, Oct. 2

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Woo verb, ptooie:

Jennifer Barnett Reed says “ptooie” to using task as a verb, as in I was tasked with rewriting the accounting software. And “double ptooie” to He gifted me with a box of chocolates. 

I'm inclined to agree, but people have been turning nouns into verbs for a long time, and they show no signs of stopping. A prominent educator wrote recently, “As we transition to new leadership … ”

When you're honchoing a state university, you say what you want, I thought. Then I found that Random House in fact acknowledges transition as a verb. But we don't have to. 

 

“Police and FBI agents captured an ex-convict suspected of killing eight people in two states as he smoked a cigarette outside of a southwestern Illinois bar Tuesday night.”

Nell Doyle asks, “Killing folk in two states while outside a bar in Illinois? How did he manage that?” A clearer version would be “An ex-convict suspected of killing eight people in two states was arrested by police and FBI agents as he smoked a cigarette outside a southwestern Illinois bar Tuesday night.”

And then there was “A second co-defendant has promised to testify against a North Little Rock man accused in the slaying of a mentally retarded North Little Rock man in exchange for a reduced prison sentence.” If prosecutors are reducing sentences for those who slay the mentally retarded, prosecutors are way out of line. This one could be fixed by turning it around: “In exchange for a reduced prison sentence, a second co-defendant has promised to testify against a North Little Rock man accused in the slaying of a mentally retarded North Little Rock man.”

 

With baseball season drawing to a close, we look elsewhere for  unusual names. The divorce filings, for example:  “Corinthians Jones v. Marcell Jones.” No word on which one is Corinthians.

The police report is another source. “Court records show that he twice shot his girlfriend, Diptheria Doe, at his home.” It's a pretty name if you don't think about the disease, which is spelled with one more “h.”

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