The English language constantly evolves, and Iowa officials may be adding to the nation’s lexicon.The word “fund” used to be just a noun. A fund was an account into which you put money. Now, because government officials started using it as a verb, it’s o-k to say “the government will fund the project.” In the past two years, a number of Iowa officials have turned the noun “incentive” into a verb or adverb. Governor Tom Vilsack is among those who say things like “We need to find ways to incent farmers.” Grammarians may quake when folks use a noun as a verb, but not Catherine Ringen, a linguistics professor at the University of Iowa.Ringen says it’s o-k to create verbs from nouns. It’s called “backformation” according to Ringen.One of her textbooks gives the example of saying a person “greyhounded” from Chicago to New York. You may have never heard that verb before, but she says you know it means the person rode a bus.
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