14 FEBRUARY 1903, Page 16



Sin,—There is a development of the English language which seems to me to be gaining strength with remarkable rapidity. I refer to the practice of manufacturing verbs out of nouns, adjectives, or anything else which happens to come to hand. In MSS. which I have read during the past few weeks I have found scores, I might almost say hundreds, of instances of this practice, which appears to have a special fascination for some novelists and poets. Here are a few examples: "he hoarsed," "he husked," "she shrilled," "she tiptoed," "she glimpsed him," "he parroted," "to supreme," "to camorning," and last but not least, "yells of joy artesianed up his throat." I may be old-fashioned in my prejudice against this pro- miscuous practice, but I should like to ask your opinion.—

[Though we hold, with Dryden, that a man of letters should "trade both with the living and the dead for the enrichment of our tongue," and realise that slang is often but good language "in the making," we cannot see that our speech gains much by the verbal atrocities quoted by Mr. Murray. To get an extra shade of meaning by using a noun as a verb may be allowable if the result is appropriate and euphonious, but to make new words merely for the sake of making them is a very useless affectation. At the same time, the language must never be put into an academic strait-waistcoat, and we must never forget that at the greatest of our literary epochs, the age of Elizabeth, the language grew by leaps and bounds. Ben Jonson in The Poetaster satirised Marston for his manufacturing of new words, but when we read the play the laugh is very often against the pedant who protested, and with the daring poet who manufactured whit then seemed strange words. P. Spectator.]