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Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Grammar Nazi Writes

Immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are far from the only people in this country who need to learn English. From what I read in the Comments portions of various on-line articles, about half of us need to learn English. The other half may just need to learn how to type. How hard is it, really, to use the Shift key or type in a period once in a while? But, I digress.

The word "gift" is a NOUN. It is a form of the word "(to) give," which is a VERB. Why use an incorrect form of a word for the word itself? Have you ever "applicationed" for a job?

In many instances, the verb and noun forms of a word are the same. You can, for example, bicycle to work on a bicycle. You can target a terrorist group, thus making that group a target. You can petition Congress to do something by signing a petition. But, you simply cannot gift a gift. Two different words. Two different uses. You don't sound trendy when you talk about "gifting" a pair of Gucci shoes to someone. You sound retarded. Generous, but retarded.

An even more heinous abuse of English is the complete fabrication of words like "conversate" and "orientate." People don't "conversate." That's not even a legitimate form of the word "converse," which is almost always what people mean when they say "conversate." You don't "orientate." You just "orient." Would you "transportate" something on a ship? No. That sounds stupid. The only reason you probably don't think "conversate" and "orientate" sound stupid is because you've heard these made-up abominations so often that they sound normal to you. "Orientate" is so pervasive that it probably appears in the dictionary by now. It should not. It's an unnecessary word used by speakers and writers who got college degrees through the mail.

By the way, just because a word appears in the dictionary doesn't mean you should use it. My dictionary provides a definition for the word "ain't," but I don't say "ain't" in job interviews, and, apart from this sentence, I don't know when I've ever used "ain't" in a written document.

Back to "gifting." The thing you give is the gift - a noun. The act of conveying a thing to someone is to give - a verb. I can give you a scooter for Christmas. A demonstrator can give you a free sample of perfume at a department store. The scooter and perfume become gifts when they are given to you. The fact that one was a corporate come-on rather than a heartfelt display of generosity makes no difference. The scooter and the perfume were both given to you, NOT "gifted" to you. If you re-wrap them and pass them on to a distant relative next Christmas, you may be giving away used stuff but you will NOT be "gifting" or (worse) "re-gifting" your junk to someone else.

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