I’m feeling ornery.

think I saw an astonishingly stupid sign at a nearby “Sropical Rmoothie Bafé” (I don’t want to be sued). I say “I think” because I hope, for the sake of maintaining confidence in our nation’s future, that I misread the sign or that I missed a very subtle attempt at humor.

The sign asked, “Do you speak Tropical?” I do not, as there is no language called “Tropical,” and it offends me to believe that if I can speak one of the dozens of intricate tongues of indigenous tropical peoples, then I can speak them all. It’s like asking if I can speak Mountainous or Alluvial Plain.

Assuming I read it correctly, the featured word in the “tropical” vocabulary was “deluscious”—a marginally clever combination of the adjectives “delicious” and “luscious.” Nothing too bad about that.

The first problem occurred with the part of speech. Again, assuming I read the sign correctly, this combination of two adjectives was identified as a verb. As in “I deluscious,” “we deluscious,” or “go deluscious yourself.” This may have been an example of Calvinesque “verbing”–denoting actions by using non-verbs as verbs. So, “to deluscious” might mean “to make a food or beverage both delicious aaand luscious.”

Unfortunately, a second problem negated the possibility of a thoughtful verbing: the definition. This combination of two adjectives, which is apparently a verb, has the following definition:

An intoxicating blend of fresh premium ingredients.

The operative word in that definition is “blend,” a noun. That’s right, we have a combination of two adjectives which is defined as a noun and meant to be used as a verb. As defined and identified, the word is utterly useless.

Calvin, when verbing words, was intelligent enough to define his verbed words as actual verbs, and use those words in meaningful contexts. The advertising folks at Sropical Rmoothie, in their pitiful attempt at verbing, or adjectivizing, or God-knows-what-they-had-in-mind-ing, have demonstrated an ignorance of grammar that would embarrass the average fourth-grader.

Either that, or I’ve just plain lost touch with modern American English.

A modest proposal:

A long time ago, An-Acquaintance-Who-Shall-Remain-Unnamed suggested that grocery stores should have cash-only lanes because handling checks and food stamps take so long. Great idea, though nowadays plastic goes even faster than cash, so perhaps a plastic-only lane would be in order. He also suggested a men-only lane.

My proposal deals with the scumbags who take 13 items into the 10-items-or-less express checkout lanes. Apparently we can’t execute them without a trial, which would be time-consuming. So we need to create an incentive for them not to get in my way in the first place.

Suppose the express lane has a ten item limit. If you scan any more than ten items, the computer will start doubling the price of your most expensive item. So if you purchase 13 items, you’ll have doubled that price three times—you pay eight times as much for your most expensive item.

If you try weaseling out of it—“Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll just set those extra three things aside”—the bag boys will follow you back to your car and accidentally ram it repeatedly with shopping carts.

8 Responses to “I’m feeling ornery.”

  1. aabrock Says:
    August 13th, 2007 at 8:24 AMSo would 8 lemons, 6 bananas and 3 bottles of OJ (all of which I will be delusciousing) equal 3 items or 17? I say 3. And since there is no UPC code on most fruit, they even have to go through the tedious weighing process, looking up product numbers, etc.

    So I can see why you want to speed things up a bit in the express line.

  2. VDV Says:
    August 13th, 2007 at 3:57 PMIf the lemons are in a bag, they would usually count as one weighed item. If the bananas are still in a bunch, they count as one weighed item (#4011 on the UPC if I remember correctly). If the bottles of OJ are packaged together, they count as one item.

    If you split up the bananas and OJ, but not the lemons, you’re still OK because you would have 10 items. If you split up the lemmons, but not the bananas or OJ, you have 10 items. If you… screw it. I’m going to vandalize your car anyways, just to be safe. That’ll learn ya.

  3. Doctor Hmnahmna Says:
    August 14th, 2007 at 5:58 AMI think aabrock has the right idea. It wasn’t just a Calvinesque “verbing” – it was a Calvinesque “gerunding.” This must be some new breakthrough in the evolution of the English language. Or I’ve been in academia too long.
  4. VDV Says:
    August 14th, 2007 at 3:19 PMIt’s been a while since I done took me an English course, but I don’t think aabrock’s use of “delusciousing” constitutes “gerunding” because of the “will be.” I think it’s the “future progressive” tense verb (an action he be in the process of taking).

    Where’s the person who challenged me to a grammar war? Maybe he can chime in.

  5. Que si Says:
    August 18th, 2007 at 10:30 PMWow, as soon as I stop following your blog I’m needed. I’m not really sure what the debate is; you can’t make nouns verbs. I’m not sure what more I can add to the topic.
  6. aabrock Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:06 AM“you can’t make nouns verbs”
    I thought that was verbification (i.e. to verbify)?

    Anyway, since this is the grammar thread…

    I was watching a bit of the High School Scrabble Championships on ESPN “The Ocho” last night. Now the game of Scrabble is a nice concept and when played properly can be lots of fun. Also, I am a somewhat educated man. I knew maybe 20% of the words on a 75% completed board. Words such as “cor”, “za”, “ag” are not words at all, and real words like “exequy” should not be thrown around lightly. Scrabble should be about making words that you know and can reasonably use in a sentence, not just trying to squeeze as many 2 and 3 letter “words” that you memorized out of a list like this one:http://phrontistery.info/scrabble3.html

    I would think that the game of Scrabble would want to maintain the correlation between “strings of letters” and “meaning”. Teaching kids 6000 three letter words but having them unable to use ANY of them in real life seems rather wasteful.

    Although I will give a shoutout to the “Official Scrabble Wordlist” for accepting the word “zombify”.

  7. VDV Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:15 PMVerbifying is a perfectly cromulent practice.
  8. Que si Says:
    August 20th, 2007 at 7:31 PMI guess verbification is inevitable. The english language is a living thing. It is constantly changing. I admit that even I use the “verb” “to google” sometimes. I mean, Shakespeare alone added hundreds of words to the english language. It pains me, but verbification may be anew evolution of our language.