". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Just Goes to Show You What I Know

After reading my last post, my precociously literary daughter decided to check up on me, and after grabbing her trusty dictionary pointed out the error of my ways: seems there are two entries for the word loan, the second of which identifies it as a verb and follows up with the note "see lend."

Well, so much for my English teacher credibility. Who's going to ever again trust my authority on a language or literary topic? And what am I going to write about now, since of late I have been thinking I need to lay off the politics for a while?

Guess you guys are going to be getting lots of recipes in the next few weeks. Oh wait, that won't work either, considering I have about five different boring meals I cook on a rotating basis.

This little blog may have to quiet down for a while. Good timing, too, since I have some other things I should be working on right now.

But to wrap up the point of this post--where on earth did I become so convinced of the rightness of my understanding that loan cannot be used as a verb? I remember being taught this and was so sure I was right. So I checked the online Merriam-Webster dictionary and found this note:

"The verb loan is one of the words English settlers brought to America and continued to use after it had died out in Britain. Its use was soon noticed by British visitors and somewhat later by the New England literati, who considered it a bit provincial. It was flatly declared wrong in 1870 by a popular commentator, who based his objection on etymology. A later scholar showed that the commentator was ignorant of Old English and thus unsound in his objection, but by then it was too late, as the condemnation had been picked up by many other commentators. Although a surprising number of critics still voice objections, loan is entirely standard as a verb. You should note that it is used only literally; lend is the verb used for figurative expressions, such as 'lending a hand' or 'lending enchantment.'"

So there you go. Back in the 19th century someone made a boo-boo, and here I am in the 21st century perpetuating it because somewhere along the way it was taught to me. But that's no excuse. I should have done a little checking before making my smart-aleck pronouncement.

So, just wondering . . . did anyone besides my little girl pull out a dictionary? Or did you just take my faulty word for it?

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