October 8th, 2007

Verbification of the Funnest Variety

Last week I got a last-minute assignment from one of my favorite publications. It’s going to be a fun piece to work on, but it couldn’t possibly be as fun as the writer’s memo, which included this memorable phrase from my editor:

 

“Your challenge will be to give these stories ‘the Deffner touch,’ and make them fun and punchy. We don’t want the story to sound like a history lesson.”

 

I absolutely approve of being adjectivized. And I don't think it needs to stop there. In fact, it is probably a mere matter of time before the old OED finds itself adding an entry for “deffner, verb: to make fabulous.”

 

But in the interest of fairness, I feel compelled to admit that this famed Deffner touch is pretty expansive, and can in fact result in events such as the following:

 

  • While out riding with Nessie this weekend, I found myself having an extra-tough time pedaling up hills. Also down hills. Also on flat surfaces. I assumed I had done my beautiful beach cruiser some kind of damage shoving it into the trunk of my car, so on my long, sweaty, gruntastic way home, I swung by the bike store. Roughly 734,000 people were inside it, so it’s lucky I stopped by to entertain them. Because when I told the bike guy something was wrong with my bike, he said, “You mean besides the fact that your handlebars are turned around?” With a quick spin he righted the handlebars so that, for the first time that day, I could turn left. “You want to watch that,” he said sternly. (The hordes of customers were kind, and waited till I was out of earshot to begin mocking and/ or badmouthing me as a very poor example of a bicycle owner, indeed.)
  • While out walking earlier in the week, I fell into earnest conversation with myself. I do talk to myself with some regularity, but I don’t notice it very much until I realize from the strange looks that other people are actually hearing me do it. This particular afternoon, an aged man passed me on a bike, threw me a concerned backward glance, then stood up to pedal harder until he reached the relative safety of the next block. Unfortunately, this interesting event became my next topic of conversation with myself, and I ended up terrifying yet another passer-by.
  • For further examples along these lines, refer to this blog. (I mean, if I didn’t write about lo, the many ways in which I embarrass myself, I’d scarcely have anything to blog about!)

 

However, I do not believe that these multifarious definitions of deffnering should prevent the Oxford English from adding me. I can be like one of those words Humpty Dumpty uses in Alice in Wonderland, that means whatever the user decides it means and refers to anything from self-inflicted humiliation to superfun. It will be the ultimate word, in fact, probably replacing many adjectives and verbs currently in usage. (I'm already a noun, so that's not a problem.) And then when people write novels (after the public acceptance of “to deffner”) they’ll all have to include glossaries, just like A Clockwork Orange, with page citations and everything, so the reader will know exactly how the writer was using deffner in each particular instance. Think how short campaign speeches will be! And report cards will be so easy to interpret. Oh, what a deffnery world it will be.

 



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