August 2nd, 2012 .

Should “nounism” be banned from the Olympics?

Max Morden

When I tuned into the Olympics a couple of nights ago, I learned that three Canadian athletes had “medalled” during the day. Although most Canadians were pleased, some winced. Since when had the noun “medal” become a verb?

I did some research and discovered that there are different views on the matter, depending on what side of the pond you live on. Brits roll their eyes when they hear that someone has “medaled” instead of “won a medal.” But Americans accept it as perfectly proper English.

The practice of using nouns as verbs is called “nounism.” There are those in Britain who denounce it as a new American disease threatening their language. Even in America, some linguistic purists admit that “creeping nounism” is a disturbing trend.

Creeping nounism began with words like impact – a noun that’s now commonly used as a verb (ie. “how will that impact you?”). New examples keep popping up, such as deplane, which means disembarking from an aircraft.

The resistance to medalling, particularly at the Olympics, is starting to weaken. As for me, I’m on the fence. I don’t object to the word, although I don’t see myself using it any time soon.

But as for American athletes who say they “hope to podium,” I say they’ve gone too far.



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