Saturday, 3 October 2009

new word 'friended' slides into everyday parlance

Chad Taylor wrote an article in The Age newspaper last week about turning his back on Facebook because it no longer serves his needs. He said,
I liked it at first. I joined and was quickly “friended” by an ex-colleague…
I didn’t “friend” strangers or celebrities.
It’s a relatively new word, friended, so it seemed logical to me that Chad Taylor would place it in quotation marks. After all, he’s a word-smith, a novelist.

But the third time he used it in his article, he didn’t put quotation marks around it. He said,
…but one of her friends was an editor whom I friended…
And that seems logical to me also. You can’t go on forever placing quotes around a word. If it’s going to make its way in the world, it has to stand on its own.

So Chad Taylor’s one-page article seems to me a microcosm of the absorption of a new word into everyday English.

(I'd like to have put a link to the article but you have to pay to read it, so I didn't do so. Oh, the joy of old technologies - I have a hard-copy on my desk, and I can re-read it as many times as I like, for free.)


Chad Taylor said...

Hi there - nice blog. Thanks for the mention.

I can't recall if I used quotes in the original piece or if they were added by the sub-editor(s), but the way they have been employed conforms to copy editing tradition. The quotes indicate 'friend' and 'friended' (as opposed to 'befriend' or 'befriended') as non-standard English / jargon and are dropped thereafter on the assumption that readers have gullivered the Nadsat.

Facebook's use of the word friend as a verb makes writing sentences about it extremely difficult. There's a reason to use 'befriend.'

parlance said...

That's interesting - I didn't notice there were two forms of the word, and that each new form had quotation marks only once.

Did you see that LanguageLog had a reference to friend, used as a verb, dating back a long way - to Chaucer, I think it said.

Chad Taylor said...

I didn't know that. So is the Facebook 'friend' a gerund? Can't remember.

I'll be interested to see if such terms survive their technologies. We always 'did a search' on Yahoo; now we Google - but will Google remain a verb if, say, web users migrate to Bing?

I was in LA recently where locals talked about 'Tivo'ing' TV episodes, but many also would say 'taped.'

parlance said...

Hmm... binging might not catch on because it sounds hard to say. Though rather poetic at the same time...

Tivo'ing- I agree it needs an apostrophe in the middle to be pronounceable - ends up sounding like a character in a fantasy novel.

The friending of others on Facebook would be a gerund. An 'ing' form of the verb used as a noun.