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Frogpond 47.2 • 2024

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Essay 1 - Eclipses

Essay 2 - Afriku

Essay 3 - "Verbing" in Haiku

Essay 4 - Haiku & Parenting

Essay 5 - Braided Haiku

Interview - Mary McCormack

Haibun

Renku

Book Reviews

Haiku Society of America

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"Verbing" in Haiku

by Brad Bennett

"Verbing" in Haiku
(complete PDF version)

Here is a sample excerpt from the opening page of this essay:

Imagining Haiku Narrators

by Brad Bennett

English-language haiku owe much of their vitality to nouns, but many also include highly effective, dynamic, and integral verbs. Our reservoir of English-language verbs is wide and deep, but sometimes we search for a verb that would more precisely name a particular motion or action, and we can’t find it in the thesaurus. What is the haiku writer to do?

One solution is to invent your own verb, but not in a Seussian way, conjuring up a whole new word from scratch. Rather you can borrow another part of speech and re-designate it as a verb. Some modern English-language haiku include imaginative and successful examples of “verbing,” the practice of using a noun as a verb. (Grammarians also refer to this as “denominalization.”) Our everyday conversations are rife with examples of “denominal verbs.” Some have become so embedded over the years that we take them for granted (e.g. “authoring” a book and “tabling” a topic). Some emerge in the workplace or are inspired by new technology (e.g. xeroxing, texting, and googling). Language is always evolving, and more denominal verbs are finding their way into our conversations and dictionaries each year.

Psycholinguist Steven Pinker, in his book The Sense of Style, claims that a fifth of English verbs probably started out as nouns or adjectives. Dictionaries add new words every year—Merriam-Webster added 690 in 2023—and many of these are denominal verbs.

According to grammarly.com, “...the first instance of the word verbification dates to 1871,”2 but the act of verbing far predates that. “Verbing is not a new concept. In fact, it has been around for centuries. William Shakespeare was known for his use of verb- ing in his plays. He was famous for using nouns as verbs to create new and interesting phrases that are still used today.”

[feature continues for several more pages] . . .

Bennett, Brad. "'Verbing' in Haiku." Frogpond 47.2, Spring-Winter, 2024, 124-140.

This excerpt inclues the first page of the feature: page 120. The complete feature includes pages 124-140. To read the complete feature, click on the link to the PDF version:

"Verbing" in Haiku
(complete PDF version)

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