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Culture & Religion

When Nouns Go Verb

Nouns that have changed to verbs, such as ‘login’, ‘text’, and ‘unlike’ have some grammarians in a fuss, but one lexicographer celebrates the changes as evidence of language’s dynamism.

Nouns that have changed to verbs, such as ‘login’, ‘text’, and ‘unlike’ have some grammarians in a fuss, but one lexicographer celebrates the changes as evidence of language’s dynamism. “When done well, verbing delights our brains. Philip Davis, a professor at the School of English at the University of Liverpool, devised a study in 2006 that tested just what happens when people read sentences with verbed nouns in them—and not just any verbed nouns, nouns verbed by Shakespeare. … So what did happen? The subjects understood—in a time measured in milliseconds—that something cool and new was happening.”


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Why do Shakespeare’s plays have such a dramatic impact on readers and audiences? Philip Davis shows how Shakespeare’s use of language creates heightened brain activity, or what he calls “a theater of the brain.”

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