Contemporary language use, I must admit, periodically annoys me. Janet and I enjoy mocking the newsreaders reporters and voiceover artists who insist on pronouncing the T in “often,” most of whom, I feel confident, would not so pronounce the word if it werenʼt on the Teleprompter, cue card or text in front of them. I have in fact heard some of our nearby newsreaders and reporters in person clearly, simply and correctly say, “offen.” A little quick, simple historical/etymological research reveals that troublesome T has been getting pronounced for some time (after all, thereʼs that antique root oft). However itʼs not general mispronunciation thatʼs on my mind today (besides, the secondary pronunciation with the offensive T is accepted in many dictionaries today).
With newsreaders in mind, let me begin with the modern novelty verb far too popular on TV and radio. The word is “transition.” Itʼs not a verb. Not, never, no-how. We have perfectly good verbs that mean what those know-nothings want — change, shift, move, for examples. But no, those single-syllable workhorses donʼt sound sufficiently, falsely elevated for the modern news writer or talking head. But transition, ah, thereʼs a multisyllabic impresser! Saying transition, when you mean change, makes a braindead ignoramus sound like s/he knows a thing or two! Who cares if itʼs a noun? Newsreaders must not know what a noun is. Or a verb for that matter. So poor transition, a harmless and effective noun, gets mauled into misuse as a verb.
Donʼt believe thatʼs abusing the poor word? (Iʼm sure a large number of halfwits who insist on making transition into a verb must not believe.) Let me demonstrate.
First, we should have already a perfectly good verb, “transide,” as the root from which transition derived and which should mean “to create a switch or shift, as between topics” or in other words “to make a transition.” Unfortunately, we donʼt have that verb, although I hereby decree its existence and assert all transitioners begin using transide instead. (I can only wish that neologist par excellence, William Shakespeare, had bothered to English the Latin verb transire, from which transition does derive, into its natural counterpart, transide. If he — influential inventor of so many hundreds of other now accepted widespread new words — had done so, we wouldnʼt be combating transition ignorance today.) According to the Oxford English Dictionary, transition does derive from the Latin verb transire through the intermediate Latin noun transition. And, as the OED and every other dictionary reveals, our English word is a noun, “a state of change.” Not a verb, never a verb — no way, never, no-how.
But why shouldnʼt modern yokels be allowed to invent a new word, the verb transition? Shakespeare made up words, and this isnʼt the first time a noun has become a verb (or perhaps “twinned a verb version of itself”) or vice versa. We can race each other in a race. Talk a talk. Read a really good read. After you wreck your car, you are driving an old wreck. And those three examples barely scratch the surface of twin nouns and verbs.*
So whatʼs wrong with the word with which I take such exception, huh?
The problem with transition is its etymology, in particular that troublesome -ion ending. That ending has a meaning (deriving originally from the Greek word ion, a “thing”), and that meaning is “noun.” Putting -ion on a root creates a noun, a thing. Think about it: all the -ion ending words are things (and not actions** which you do). Someone desperate (as I am to make this issue clear) is feeling desperation (a state of being, a thing), and no one can desperation (an action).
In fact, we most often turn verbs into nouns by adding just that -ion. People concentrate, creating a state of concentration, for instance, or calculate to perform a calculation. And when we perspire, itʼs perspiration. Those who inspire (as I hope to do with todayʼs exhortation — from the verb exhort) provide inspiration.
But all those -ion endings mean one simple thing for each word: “This word is a thing, a noun.” And thatʼs why the faux verb transition is just wrong. The ending contradicts the verb usage, absolutely and clearly. And only an idiot would think otherwise (now).
Avoid being that idiot. Just say change. Or join with me in spreading the new verb transide.
Now that I have made that matter clear, I have a further post on another vile issue of stupid nonsense, our contemporary bit of redundancy, “meet up with.” But, with me having filled my appropriate space, youʼll have to wait for that rant.
* Both scratch and surface have nominative and verb uses!
** And yes, the word action is itself a noun (ending in -ion, after all), meaning “the state or situation of doing something.” But thatʼs not a problem. The word verb, after all, is grammatically a noun, too.