Date: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 11:37:18 -0500
From: Mark Mandel
Subject: "grow" and "incent"

When we grow plants, we usually start them ab initio: from seed or seedling, the
minimal possible (or at least practical)
state of the object. If a child is given the care of a mature tomato plant, we
can accept a proud "I grew these tomatoes!",
because the tomatoes were nonexistent (or maybe just buds) when the child took
over, but "I grew this plant" would be
incorrect even if the plant gained inches of height and circumference under the
child's attentions. In contrast, "growing
the [e.g., American national] economy" means inducing growth, however defined,
in an existing and (more-or-less)
flourishing entity, and is therefore not a simple extension of the agricultural

As for Bethany's question of how this growth is to be measured, that is an
already (un)solved problem.
We already have "the economy has grown" and "growth in/of the economy", whatever
they may mean, and the new
transitive verb "grow [the economy]" presumably uses the same yardstick as these
other forms of the word. Maybe
those who use the word have particular measures in mind, which you and I aren't
familiar with. But even if they don't,
this vagueness is not germane to the construction's derivation or

-- Mark

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 796-0267
320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02160, USA :