What's in a Verb?
Uhh... yeah. Right, then.
Okay, so... today's topic is, "Words that are just wrong."
We hear them every day. Hundreds, if not thousands per day. They go by without catching our notice. I'm speaking, of course, about verbs that aren't verbs, but everybody uses them as verbs, and, hey, we know what they mean, so we don't really mind. A classic example comes to mind:
"I'm attending a parenting class with my children's co-guardian tonight."
Uhhh... yeah. ...Right.
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin parent-, parens; akin to Latin parere to give birth to
1 a : one that begets or brings forth offspring b : a person who brings up and cares for another
2 a : an animal or plant that is regarded in relation to its offspring
b : the material or source from which something is derived
c : a group from which another arises and to which it usually remains subsidiary
You see, the reason they need to attend a "parenting" class, is because they aren't parents. Only one of them is. But if you are the parent, you don't need to parent - you are the parent. You just need to be the parent. Actually I'm grinding a whole nother axe, here, so I'll spare you my dissertation on the gross corrosion of the modern American family.
Hey! "Parent" is a noun, people, not a verb!
Now, the reason we so easily dismiss the use of such a contrived construct as "parenting," is that "we know what they mean," "everybody says it," and "Don't be an ass and make someone an offender for a word." Okay, then. Say what you want. But here's my deal:
I am, in fact, the parent of my children. So is my wife. We are their parents and as such, we have often worked at honing our parental skills, not our parenting skills. Why the trifling over words, you ask incredulously? Because at the end of the day, I'm not going to ask myself, "Have I parented my children well?" No, I will ask myself, "Have I been a good parent?" You can parent your kids with the skill of a master, but unless you are a parent to them, they will not love you as only a child can love his parents. While it is true that "who we are" is largely a product of "what we have done," you cannot escape the fact that what you do reflects who you really are. And love fixates not on the doing, but on the being.
So why are words so important?
Behavior follows thought;
thought follows ideas;
ideas follow communication;
communication follows language.
Calvin understood it (remember the neighborhood terror who spent his awake-time zapping space aliens with his partner Hobbs?) when he said to Hobbs, "Hey, let's verb some words. I love verbing words. It totally weirds the language."