When nouns become verbs

I sometimes like it.

Probably not always. Most of the examples that I can think of off the top of my head have to do with emerging technologies. “Facebook me.”  “I’ll Google it.”  These are okay–short and also specific, which I respect.  Though I’m not a fan of saying “google” for “search” if Google is not the search engine, as that is kind of misleading instead of specific.

What I really like–and what has me writing on this topic to begin with– is when the language is used more playfully and willfully, so that it has poetry as well as efficiency.  I recently read Karen Russell’s Sleep Donation and jotted down two examples:

“We moth along toward the lights.”

“Moth along.” Kind of great, right?  She’s describing human beings at a night market.  It evokes a different visual image and / or sense of intent from “walking”, or “traveling” or “moving”–this is more haphazard.  And there’s mood too–a sense of danger, of bad judgement in action.  For a short phrase it does a lot of work.

Here’s another: “She has to houdini out of her restraints.”

Not just struggle or wiggle–though certainly we feel wiggling is part of it. But we feel that “she” has a willfulness, and intent to escape her restraints such that she is doing something a little outside the possible.  Like Houdini.

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3 thoughts on “When nouns become verbs

  1. Ha! Forgot about Krogering, but it is a good one. I have a warm spot in my heart for that. We don’t have Kroger her, and none of the supermarket names have the same vibe. Vons…vonsing? Not so much. Ralph’s…ralphing? Definitely not.

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