Yes, I’m peeving

Screen Shot 2015-09-06 at 3.29.42 PM“Login” is a noun. Step 2 here should read “On the event date and time, log in and join…”

I see “workout” regularly misused in the same way (at my gym, for example).

And yes, it causes me that peever’s wince, brings out my inner 8th-grade-English teacher (which, as a side note, is not so much of a stretch, in that I now do, in fact, teach 8th-grade English.)

As helpfully explains:

Many who are neither professionals in the computer field nor amateur tech enthusiasts condemn the use of the solid form login as a verb, and with reason. It doesn’t behave like a normal verb. You cannot say you have loginned, and you are never in the process of loginning. Moreover, you cannot even ask someone to login you; you must ask that person to log you in. Clearly, it is the two-word phrase log in that functions fully as an English verb and not the solid form. Normally, we would expect log in, the verb phrase and login, the noun to behave in the same way as similar pairs: blow out/blowout, crack down/crackdown, hang up/hangup, splash down/splashdown, turn off/turnoff, where the two-word phrase is a verb and the one-word form a noun.

‘And yet,’ concedes, “this gluing together of terms like login, logon, backup, and setup as verbs is common, especially in writing about computers.”

This is the great conundrum (for me, at least) of descriptivism; how long do you hold the line and insist that “login” is a noun and “log in” is a verb phrase, before you give up (not giveup) and admit defeat?

Contrastive focus reduplication

Q: “Did you have dinner tonight?”

A: “Yeah, but not, like, dinner dinner.”

Google “contrastive focus reduplication” and you’ll come across a lot of references to “The Salad-Salad Paper.”

As in this piece exploring the concept on

Also known as “lexical cloning.” (I think I like that term even better for sheer “eh what?”)

For the truly curious, a laundry list of examples from all manner of sources, from Steinbeck to The Simpsons,

And remember this ad?

While my students write, I browse Garner’s.

“benighted stab at correctness”

“ghastly example of hypercorrectness”

“The best writers match substance with form. They use language precisely, evocatively, even daringly.”

“syllabus” is a ghost word

(Dear blog, I’ve missed you. I think of you often.)

Grammar Girl on ghost words: “Ghost words are words that weren’t real to begin with—they came about because of an error or misunderstanding—but they made it into the dictionary anyway.”

Syllabus is a ghost word!

Favorite line from this piece: “Thanks to John Racine who made me aware of the word ‘Nihilartikel,’ which likely predates ‘Mountweazel’…”

Well, I mean, yeah. Of course everybody knows that….

Actually, mountweazel is a great word I have just now discovered; it means deliberately invented entries in a dictionary or encyclopaedia.