Sunday, January 24, 2010

Orientated, If Not Informated

One-panel cartoon showing a man standing at an Information Desk, saying I'd like to be informated, please
As always, Dan Piraro nails a little piece of the zeitgeist (and the zeitgeist says "Autsch!").

Can I get a show of hands from those who feel pain whenever they hear the word "orientate"?

When I was 17 I had a boring summer job, and spent part of my time making a list of as many English words ending in "-ate" as I could think of. It was a substantial list, but orientate was not on it.

Writer Paul Niquette wrote a short essay on this "back-formation" of verbs when creating his list of 101 Words I Don't Use. He includes a list of other misguided back-formations (some I particularly liked were combinate, confrontate, explanate, hospitalizate, and observate). Unfortunately, a few on his list are ones I've actually heard with some frequency: administrate, destinate, documentate, fermentate, and prolongate.

When Niquette wrote his rumination in 2005, he concluded by saying, "Fastenate your seatbelt: The verb 'orientate' appears on the web at more than 1,600,000 sites." My current search, surprisingly, shows the number receding to 1,300,000 occurrences.

Now don't you feel more informated than ever?

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elena said...

!! My hand is waving. The all-time ugliest word, in my book, is "encapsulate." It makes me shudder..

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Scattered around the state, apparently, are some "Interpretative Centers." I guess somebody decided that "interpretive" is reserved for dance. Right or wrong, it drives me crazy.

Daughter Number Three said...

Interpretate! Oh, yuck.

Ms Sparrow said...

Oh yeah, orientate has been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. Let's stamp out stupid suffixes!

Steve Brezenoff said...

Ugh, back-formated verbs are the worst.

Abel said...

Conversate. We all lose when we hear people use this non-word.