Blogrolling for Dollars

So I finally have to say it: I can’t stand the use of ‘scrapbook’ as a verb. There are clubs and magazines and conventions … and that’s all fine, but couldn’t we have had all of that without having the new and annoying verb? Couldn’t we have the excellent tools, caddies, papers and books, the aisles-o-fun in Michael’s and Pearl Paint without having to grab up a perfectly good noun and bludgeon it into service as a verb?

(My sister will be laughing right now.)

Please don’t think I’m against the making of scrapbooks. I love scrapbooks. Truly. I labored long and hard on the book I made for my niece’s first birthday, and it remains one of the gifts of which I am most proud in my gift-giving life. I am fascinated by all the new, digital possibilities. My Blurb books (the private ones more than the public ones) are scrapbooks. I’ve been playing with Smilebox since learning about it on Stacey’s site a couple of months ago. And I love seeing the extraordinarily beautiful things other people make; I see their books and pages and I’m blown away. (I mean, look at Pam’s beautiful work.) It’s not the product I’m opposed to. It’s the noun-for-verb penchant that drives me crazy.

A couple of years ago I heard Iyanla Vanzant on Oprah telling some poor woman, “You’re languaging yourself into that situation.” (The bold is Iyanla’s; the italics are mine.) What on earth is that? Languaging yourself? Please. No, make that PUH-leeeeze. And throw in a solid, “Gag me,” for good measure.

And then there’s friending. Friending? Is it just me, or does it sound almost like an act of aggression? Wrestling someone into friendship whether they like it or not? Making a friend, being a friend … these things make sense to me. And then there is the entirely serviceable, already-available verb: befriend. Oh, yes, of course it’s old-fashioned. No one says ‘befriend’ anymore. True enough. Well, no one but me.

It’s everywhere. People seem to think it’s clever or fun or down with the modern culture or some such not-clever, not-fun thing. Can you all please lean in close to the screen and listen closely: STOP IT! STOP IT THIS INSTANT!! Ok, you can sit back now.

Am I really this much of a jerk? Yeah, probably. But mostly what I am is a nut about English. I love English. Really, truly, we-should-be-carving-our-initials- in-a-tree crazy about English. That’s why I use words that make pretty much everyone around me make fun of me at least a little (‘sundries,’ anyone? ‘vagaries,’ perhaps? … the other day I even described something as being ‘down at heel’ for heavens sake!). And that’s why I get all stupid about things like ‘languaging’ (I would take ‘scrapbooking’ over Iyanla’s creation any day of the week!).

I know, I know: language is fluid, ever growing and changing. Of course. It’s one of the things I love about language … you know, as long as it grows and changes in ways I like and approve of (ok, I really am a jerk). I do like the fact that words are getting added to our lexicon on a regular basis (uh … like ‘blog,’ for instance). I like seeing the way we try to work our way around the usable, appropriate descriptors of things (‘significant other’ to ‘life partner’ to ‘partner’).

As soon as Fox stops laughing at me, she will be composing her response to this post, in which she outs me as being guilty of this hideous crime my own self. Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I will beat her to the punch: Yes, yes it’s true. A couple of months ago I wrote her an email that began, “I blogrolled you today.” Nevermind that it actually sounds just a little bit nasty. It’s just wrong. Oh, what’s become of me? Mopsy says I talk as if I’ve stepped out of an Austen novel. Not with sweet nothings like blogrolled tripping off my tongue, I don’t.

Isn’t this always the way? The things I fault in others are simply reflections of my own behavior. [sigh]

7 thoughts on “Blogrolling for Dollars

  1. You’re so funny.

    I’ve run into similar internal conflicts myself over language. As a linguist, I know that language changes over time. I have a resistance to prescriptive grammar, as I know that the rules dictated by such are often comparatively recent, sometimes rather arbitrary, and don’t reflect actual language usage. I have no problem with prepositions at the end of a sentence. I embrace the use of “they” as a gender-neutral pronoun. I also know there is quite a bit of dialect variation that is considered “non-standard,” with constructions that are considered “bad grammar.” Yet such constructions are systematic and completely grammatical within that language variety. (Take creoles, for example.)

    And yet somehow, I cringe when I see certain misspellings becoming so common that they are turning into alternate spellings. For example, I am most definitely dismayed by “definate.”


  2. juliebrock

    Made me smile this morning. I will be um…in the act of creating a scrapbook page later today.

    The misspelling that is popping up in our classrooms around here is loose instead of lose. Now, Ophelia “loosing” her mind is a different connotation than losing.


  3. I’m with you, Alejna, on sentence-ending prepositions. As I’ve taught English grammar over the years, my students and I have had quite a few laughs over how wacky the rules are and how often they just don’t work. And certainly since I’ve begun spending time in Jamaica and learning more and more about patois and hearing how Jamaicans use language, my thoughts about the uses of language have broadened considerably.

    The standardization of spelling errors drives me nuts! … ok, but I do love the idea of Ophelia loosing her mind! Imagine the change in that play if she had taken that route. Hmm, anyone want to rewrite the story with that twist?


  4. inmate1972

    Can we add “Clubbing” and “Spa-ing” to that list? I hate noun for verb substitutions almost as much as I hate Seasons for verbs substitutions.

    “Lovey and I summer in the North but winter in the south”.



  5. But inmate, dahling, there’ just no other way to describe how we spend the year! I’d forgotten about seasons for verbs (it doesn’t really come up when you’re working with folks who’re just learning English!). Alejna and Calvin are right: verbing weirds language.


  6. Pingback: It doesn’t feel like Sunday « Not So Shiny Jules

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