December 27, 2006

The Verbing Man

Mark Liberman's recent triptych on denominal verbs reminds me of a bit of light verse I discovered while doing research in the Proquest Historical Newspapers archive — proof positive that the rampant verbing of nouns was already ripe for satirization 120 years ago. And it's especially appropriate for the holiday season.

The Verbing Man.

"Oh, yes I Christmased," says the man,
 Who skips from verb to noun;
I dined and turkeyed à la mode,
 And curry sauced in town.

I restauranted everywhere,
 I whiskyed, beered and aled;
Cigared I on Havanas rare,
 And on Regalias galed.

I New Yeared, too, on viands rich
 And I champagned myself;
Or Tomed and Jerryed — can't tell which,
 Expenditured my pelf.

I resolutioned on that day,
 As spirits throbbed my head;
But when the pangs next panged away,
 I just cocktailed instead.

Texas Siftings.
[reprinted in the Los Angeles Times, Feb. 3, 1887, p. 9]

I hope that all Language Log readers thoroughly enjoy their Christmasing and New Yearing (and Hanukkah-ing, and Kwanzaa-ing, and Chrismukkah-ing, and Chrismahanukwanzakah-ing...).

Posted by Benjamin Zimmer at December 27, 2006 10:47 AM