Thursday, April 14, 2011

Srong Verb?

It has been a long time. I have rather missed blogging. But this first year as a tenure track professor has eaten up a lot of time with course prep, personal development plans, finding out who is who and what is what, battles over budget, saving the job, plus traveling to see my fav wife yet in the city I used to live in, and once in a while some actual scholarship. Truth be told though, I have really missed blogging. Hopefully over the summer I'll be able to be a little more consistent about setting things down.

There are so many things I could post about, but I shall restrict myself to one that came across my desk by accident.

Every once in awhile I'm able to take a minute and read some blogs myself. One of those I follow is Wil Wheaton of Star Trek, Stand by Me, and most importantly Woot Stock. He's also an author these days, and while I've not read any of his books, I've heard readings from his books and have liked what I've heard. When I retire and have time to actually read again, I plan to read his material. Anyway, in a recent post, Wheaton used the colloquial verb that hasn't yet made it into the OED, "wing", as in "to wing it". When his wife asked him about whether he had followed a recipe for black bean soup or whether he was winging it, he responded that he had wung it.

That got me to thinking a bit. We do have a verb "wing", as in to have wings, or to behave as if giving wings (he winged the ball at me) in which case as can be seen the verb form follows the typical modern pattern of past tense in -ed. But this other "wing" as in "wing it", similar to "on the fly" to improvise. I'm told that this comes from the 19th century theater, where an actor would be called on to hurriedly prepare the role and learn his lines "in the wings" and be prompted from the wings....hence wing it.

Now quite apart from the "proper form" or what have you, I'm interested that a young American professional opted for the strong verb form on analogy with ring, rang, rung, sing, sang, sung, wring, wrang, wrung, and so on rather than the modern pattern of neologisms, tweet, tweeted, have tweeted (or have tweeten?), ping, pinged, have pinged. Is there hope yet for the invention of more strong verb forms in modern English? One can only hope.....


Steve Muhlberger said...

Glad to see yr back. And a good choice of subject.

And somewhere in Francophonie, maybe in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, someone is inventing a new feminine noun, just to be different.

Anonymous said...

As a former teacher myself, I can completely empathize with your plight. In days such as these, time seems to be at a premium. Good luck with things, and by the way, I truly enjoyed this post.