Tag Archives: nouns

Guardian’s “needs legalling” typo highlights trend for ‘verbing’ nouns

The dangers of typing a sub’s query into a text doc these days is that it doesn’t go through endless proofreads before a web ed presses publish, as this Guardian interview with Lynne Featherstone today shows. [Thanks to Andrew Stuart for the spot on Twitter.]

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Does any sub out there know of a workaround for this, apart from a thorough final read on the preview? Isn’t there some kind of app that can prevent you from publishing BEFORE queries are dealt with? (Developers, note: there should be!)

I checked just now and the typo has been removed from the browser – who reads the Guardian in the browser these days? – but it’s still there on my phone app, which downloaded at 3am.

The lesson here is that, once live, there is no recall in digital.

The article is instantly sent out to RSS feeds and soon downloaded via apps to iPads and mobile phones, cached by Google, etc. Copies are made – and the error is OUT THERE. Deleting the offender at source won’t cover you – the source has shifted, the nature of digital is to make copies.

Which is fine, you just need to understand the lay of the land.

But what did irk slightly was that the sub has turned a noun into a verb; legal into ‘legalling’. (In my print days, you’d ring the offending par on a printout and mark ‘legal?’ or ‘ch: legal’ next to it, then ring the lawyer.)

Why the sudden ‘verbing?’

The verb-to-noun trend was also a hot topic in my Twitterstream this week – or, to hammer home the point, it was ‘trending’. Here’s a flavour:

The tweets also linked to a couple of nice reads, which show the trend is partly down to the rise of new tech and the need to create words for all the new stuff:



The Verb: Why do we sound so dumb when we talk about communication? Maybe because our verbs aren’t really verbs.

I’m sure I do it, ahem, verbally, and as a joke, but not in the day job. What’s your take on this? Is ‘legalling’ just in-house jargon? Is ‘verbing’ part of the flux of a living language or just plain wrong?

Let me know. Until then, I’m off to de-border my flowerbed and then maybe do some Facebooking.