Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Landfill this

My hubby and I for years have been collecting "nerbs": nouns that have become verbs. Having worked in the corporate world, where nerbs are coined every day, we groaned over usages like "sunset," which acted as not only a nerb but also a euphemism for the demise of a department and, subsequently, employee jobs.

Now, granted, many verbs in our language today were once nouns only (access, for example) and evolved over time by increased usage. And we copy editors are losing the battle against the migration of impact and contact. But some nerbs border on the ridiculous. To wit:

"Landfill less"? While I embrace the concept, I really don't think the slogan is so catchy that it justifies making landfill a verb. Especially when determined by a well-meaning, eco-friendly but likely linguistically inexperienced Dumpster* company. The English language is ever evolving, yes, but that doesn't mean every Tom, Dick, and Harry gets to assign new parts of speech to whatever words he wants. That task should be reserved for us sanctimonious editors.

*Yes, Dumpster is capitalized. It's a trademarked name. Not sure what the generic name would be -- huge, parking-space-hogging container for junk?

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