Compounding the Error

Fair warning – today’s post is a bit of a rag-bag.  First: a rant about compound verbs.  Is anyone else as annoyed by these as I am?  What I mean is the increasing phenomenon of shoving verbs into one word rather than using a short phrase, viz:

to mystery-shop

to target-market

to victim-blame

to project-manage

There are loads of these and mostly I find them annoying and unnecessary, especially when people then go on to add, as I heard the other week, ‘I project-managed a project.’  So why not just say ‘managed’?

I guess it’s because it makes things sound more thingy; more official.  I could use the word reification here if I wanted to be posh and annoying, because that’s what it means – making things more Thingy.  Commodification, I suppose, is a branch of this – making everything into a commodity.

And that’s another – er, thing.  I really hate it when people call something a ‘product’ when it so isn’t – like, for example, football or education or the cinema.  These are not products!!!  A plastic bottle is a product; a computer or a washing-machine or a car is a product.  But I object very strongly to processes, especially artistic processes, being described as if they were churned out on some great cultural production-line.  Nowadays it seems almost anything can be described as a product, from driving-lessons to holidays and from trips out to swimming-lessons.


However, I realise that there’s another phenomenon of which I am sometimes guilty, and that is a kind of subtle, barely-noticeable Malapropism.  So, for example yesterday I wrote that the Partido Popular in Spain won by a whisper.  There’s something quite poetic in that, which is perhaps why I did it, but what I meant to say is that they won by a whisker. There’s a lot of this about; slither, for example, instead of sliver – but I quite like them so I think they should stay.  Just so long as we’re clear what we mean…

It’s snowing quite hard on here today.  I wish that were real: outside it’s just wet and windy and disturbingly warm.  Last night at Beer and Carols we sung an alternative Climate-change version of Good King Wenceslas…

Kirk out