Friday, August 30, 2013

Inviting Trouble

Well, it's time for me to get on my linguistic soapbox for yet another round of "Things That Irk Me." Something must have happened while I wasn't paying attention, but exactly when did the word "invite" become a noun? I know it's definitely a verb, as in "I would like to invite you to visit me in the mental hospital when these things finally push me over the edge."

But, "invite" as a noun? Over the past few years I've been hearing things like "Did you get the invite to Guido's bachelor party?" First of all, never ask me that in front of my wife because I'm not allowed to go to bachelor parties, and she never much liked Guido, but more importantly, it's an invitation, not an invite! You invite someone to a party by giving them an invitation. Got it?

There are plenty of other examples of verbs being used as nouns or vice versa. Some of this is due to the way many of us communicate now, using social media, smart phones, and other things that encourage brevity. For example, "friend" now has a dual role as a noun and a verb. Thank you, Facebook. Guido is my friend, much to my wife's dismay, and I also friended him on Facebook (the wife doesn't know - don't say anything). 

If you use Twitter, you know you're limited to 140 characters for any messages. When I get out of bed every morning, my groans use up more than 140 characters. What kind of coherent message can you write? And, of course "tweet" has become a verb meaning what you do when you use Twitter. So, I guess, any twit can tweet on Twitter.

Everyone uses their phones to send messages and because of this, the word "text" has become a verb, when it was doing perfectly fine as a noun. Because of data usage costs, and I guess to save maybe ten seconds of time, everything is abbreviated. I received a text message from Guido the other day that said "R U going 2 my bchlr prty? U'll luv it. Strippers!" Why he had to spell out "strippers" is a mystery to me, but I think we're seeing the decline of language. People are losing the ability to spell or use words correctly.

The last example I'll use, although believe me, there are plenty more, is using the word "fail" as a noun when it's a verb. Specifically, when something has gone extremely wrong, it is now called an "epic fail." No it isn't - it's a failure, Whether it's epic or not is a matter of interpretation. But "fail" is a verb.

I realize language evolves. Words fall in and out of favor, spelling changes, and so does usage. Evolution of the species takes place over millions of years, so you can't see it. But this is going on before my very eyes - and ears.  I know it's happening and feel like there's nothing I can do to stop it.

I received a text just now. "Cops here. Guido and strippers arrested." Whew! Glad I didn't respond to the invite. The party was an epic fail.