". . . 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)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

More on Gifting

Okay, as usual, I'm late to the party. Here's a 3-year-old article my husband found that explores the verbification of gift in some detail:

"Especially During the Holidays, 'Gift' is a Verb that Keeps on Giving"

Last night during a discussion of this matter with my family, we consulted several dictionaries in our house, including the Oxford English Dictionary Concise Edition. It turns out the use of gift as a verb is not a new thing but has some history behind it. But what struck me about the definition in the OED is that it empasized the formal or ceremonial aspect of "gifting."

Think about it. We use the word "give" all the time to indicate mere transmittal of data or objects. "Give me your phone number." "Give it your best guess." "Give it a try." "Give me a moment." Give me your thoughts." "Give me that book." Giving does not necessarily mean the bestowal of a gift. I would bet that it doesn't most of the time.

So maybe the use of the word "gift" instead of "give" is an effort to emphasize the "gift" aspect and its specialness. Is that so wrong? Is it necessarily self-aggrandizing?

I acknowledge that I am a bit of a grammar snob, and I'm still not sold on all the "gifting" that is going on out there. A lot of it does strike me as an attempt to use a fancier-sounding word. But I am also starting to think that there might be a place in the lexicon for thoughtful gifting.

No comments: