Today on Today, NBC TV host Matt Lauer asked Congresswoman and GOP candidate Michele Bachmann the following:
“Amy Kremer, who’s a leader of the Tea Party movement, said … that you will be – and this is her word, not mine – quote, ‘Palinized’ in this campaign. Do you understand the verb, and what would your definition of it be?”
Click on the photo to see the video segment:
All politics aside, thank you Mr. Lauer for furthering our cause … especially in the “Verbalized …” category. This might just start a new sub-category: “Verbalized … Properly” (verbalized with a proper noun). Stay tuned.
Several years ago, an article in an airline magazine, “Nouns Gone Bad,”really hit home with us.
It discussed the phenomenon of using nouns as verbs, and the growing prevalence of this practice.
A recent tweet (on Twitter) reminded us of this ever-growing trend …
“There is a poor grammar jesus bumper sticker collection on a van. I want to at least ‘Sharpie‘ it so it makes sense.”
You may know that a Sharpie® is a marker made by Sanford. Many professional athletes (and other celebs) use these markers for signing autographs. The pens have many other uses, and we confess to having what must be one of the largest collections of Sharpie® pens around (all colors, widths, point-types, and styles – literally, in buckets in the office). But we digress …
There is an interesting paper called “THE ENVIRONMENTAL STYLE” that was written in 2005 by R.P. Detwiler, NASA Office of General Counsel, in which this trend is addressed. Detwiler uses the examples: partner, team, dialogue, and task.
Seen in a National workforce report: “… top performers are the ones thatwill become invaluable … through the economic downturn.” Should be: who
Apparently, our preference and our usage reflects a strict adherence to an interpretation of the reference to animate vs. inanimate nouns* (see usage note below), and even more strictly, distinguishing human animateness from other life-like forms.
Yikes, that’s confusing! What do we mean? Simply, we like who for any reference to people and that for any reference to things (or animals).
4.(usedrelativelyinrestrictiveandnonrestrictiveclausestorepresentaspecifiedantecedent,theantecedentbeingapersonorsometimesananimalorpersonifiedthing)** (see comment below):Anykidwhowantstocanlearntoswim.
*Usage note:That is used to refer to animate and inanimate nouns and thus can substitute in most uses for who(m) … Many of the workers that (or who) built the pyramids died while working.
**Comment: Experienced writers choose among these forms not only on the basis of grammar and the kind of noun referred to but also on the basis of sound of the sentence and their own personal preference.
So, we were humbled by our research and although we are pleased to have Grammar Girl on our side, we will let up on those (people) whothat choose to use that in certain references to humans.
THE TWELVE STEPS OF GRAMMARHOLICS (not so) ANONYMOUS
1. We admitted we were powerless over proper grammar—that our grammar had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a grammar greater than that which we use ourselves could restore us to proper usage.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the use of proper grammar as we learned it.
4. Made a searching and fearless oral, verbal, and written inventory of our grammar.
5. Admitted to the Grammar Police, to ourselves, and to a grammar school teacher the exact nature of our misusage.
6. Were entirely ready to have proper grammar remove all these defects of usage.
7. Humbly asked for proper grammar to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all grammar rules we had broken, and became willing to make corrections to them all.
9. Made direct corrections to such grammar rules wherever possible, except when to do so would perpetuate a miscommunication of them or others.
10. Continued to take an personal inventory of our grammar and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through sentence structure and punctuation to improve our conscious contact with proper grammar, as we learned it, seeking only for knowledge of grammar’s will for us and the proper usage to carry that out.
12. Having had a grammatical awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to grammarholics, and to practice these principles in all our communications.
We were just having lunch, and discovered a yummy addition to our series onnouns gone bad.
Thanks to our friends at M&M’s®, we dedicate this post to fruitings everywhere … we say, as we remember the priceless line from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, “Oh, the terrorists! They run that way. It was a run-by fruiting. I’ll get them sir. Don’t worry. Good waste of juice.” (Robin Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire sitting at the poolside bar after having thrown a piece of fruit at Stu.) But, we digress …
Here’s the newest accession to our ever-expanding list: “Strawberried” … from the new Strawberried Peanut Butter M&M’s®. OMG, they are a treat. Enjoy!
Although the word utilize has origins as far back as the early 1800s, it seems that the computer age has put this term front and center. And, regardless of its standing as an official word in most dictionaries, it gets some people riled. Consider this usage note from dictionary.com:
Usage Note: A number of critics have remarked that utilizeis an unnecessary substitute for use. It is true that many occurrences of utilize could be replaced by use with no loss to anything but pretentiousness, for example, in sentences such as ‘They utilizedquestionable methods in their analysis’ or ‘We hope that many commuters will continue to utilize mass transit after the bridge has reopened.’ But utilize can mean ‘to find a profitable or practical use for.’ Thus the sentence ‘The teachers were unable to usethe new computers’ might mean only that the teachers were unable to operate the computers, whereas ‘The teachers were unable to utilize the new computers’ suggests that the teachers could not find ways to employ the computers in instruction.
Here’s a simple and functional distinction:
Useis the general word: (What is used often has depreciated or been diminished, sometimes completely consumed: a used automobile; All the butter has been used.) As applied to persons, use implies some selfish or sinister purpose: to use another to advance oneself. Utilize implies practical or profitable use: to utilize the means at hand, a modern system of lighting.
Plus, the dictionary definitions:
use. verb (used with object).
to employ for some purpose; put into service; make use of: to use a knife.
to avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes: to use the facilities.
to expend or consume in use: We have used the money provided.
to treat or behave toward: He did not use his employees with much consideration.
to take unfair advantage of; exploit: to use people to gain one’s own ends.
to drink, smoke, or ingest habitually: to use drugs.
to habituate or accustom.
Archaic. to practice habitually or customarily; make a practice of.
use. verb. (used without object).
to be accustomed, wont, or customarily found (used with an infinitive expressed or understood, and, except in archaic use, now only in the past): He used to go every day.
Archaic. to resort, stay, or dwell customarily.
the act of employing, using, or putting into service: the use of tools.
the state of being employed or used.
an instance or way of employing or using something: proper use of the tool; the painter’s use of color.
a way of being employed or used; a purpose for which something is used: He was of temporary use. The instrument has different uses.
the power, right, or privilege of employing or using something: to lose the use of the right eye; to be denied the use of a library card.
service or advantage in or for being employed or used; utility or usefulness: of no practical use.
help; profit; resulting good: What’s the use of pursuing the matter?
occasion or need, as for something to be employed or used: Would you have any use for another calendar?
continued, habitual, or customary employment or practice; custom: to follow the prevailing use of such occasions.
Law. a. the enjoyment of property, as by the employment, occupation, or exercise of it. b. the benefit or profit of lands and tenements in the possession of another who simply holds them for the beneficiary. c. the equitable ownership of land to which the legal title is in another’s name.
Liturgy. the distinctive form of ritual or of any liturgical observance used in a particular church, diocese, community, etc.
usual or customary experience.
use. verb phrase.
use up, a. to consume entirely. b. to exhaust of vigor or usefulness; finish: By the end of the war he felt used up and sick of life.
have no use for, a. to have no occasion or need for: She appears to have no use for the city. b. to refuse to tolerate; discount: He had no use for his brother. c. to have a distaste for; dislike: He has no use for dictators.
make use of, to use for one’s own purposes; employ: Charitable organizations will make use of your old furniture and clothing.
of no use, of no advantage or help: It’s of no use to look for that missing earring. It’s no use asking her to go. Also, no use.
put to use, to apply; employ to advantage: What a shame that no one has put that old deserted mansion to use!
And then there’s …
utilize. verb (used with object). Also, especially British, utilise.
to put to use; turn to profitable account: to utilize a stream to power a mill.
So, our usage recommendation: useuse when not useful to utilize :-).