Monday, June 15, 2009


Some of you are aware that I get bent sometimes concerning the development of language, in particular with regard to those elements that seem to be disintegrating. I am not a professional language maven. But I am somewhat of a traditionalist. More to the point, I like to see words used in a manner such that they mean what they say. (Wow, am I living in the wrong historical era.)
One of my pet peeves for a long time has been the artificial creation of a verb where the role of the word is traditionally that of a noun. A case in point and the one in particular I want to deal with this morning is "author." Clearly this word is a noun and it refers to the person who creates written material. It has long annoyed me to read or hear things such as, "She authored a book on that subject."
But even I can come to new understandings given sufficient time. To say, "She wrote a book on that subject," may or may not be the case. Anyone today can claim to be the author of a book or an article even if they are totally incapable of writing a coherent sentence, much less a paragraph. Right. All that is required is that the would-be author find someone with passable writing skills who is capable of listening and transcribing, sort of, the thoughts that the putative author would like to see in print. Thus, if the material is published, the author did, indeed, "author" an item, but he could never claim to have written it. Okay, I get that. But "He authored --" still grates on my sensibilities.
Oh, would that that were the only instance of this noun-to-verb atrocity.


Secondary Roads said...

Face it friend. English is a language in which nouns are frequently verbed. 8-D

vanilla said...

Yes, I know; I just want to choose which ones. ; )

jimgrey said...

I used to be a book editor. Sometimes, the books I edited needed so much work that they ended up being as much my work as the author's. Maybe the distinction developing between authoring and writing is that authoring recognizes that the work was (at least) augmented by others -- editors, contributors, etc. -- while a writer's work is entirely his own.

vanilla said...

Jim: Nice distinction. Now if we could establish that in the collective consciousness so that it was well understood, perhaps I'd be less cranky.