Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 12:52:41 -0400
From: Beverly Flanigan
Subject: Re: "incent"

Comments for both Mark and Bethany: Backformations, like incentive, n. -->
incent, v. are common; witness television-->televise, option-->opt,
emotion-->emote, enthusiasm-->enthuse, and my own (idiosyncratic?) usage,
transition-->transish. Since we've just been talking about this word
formation process in my Intro. to Linguistics class, I've got a million of
'em. Mind you, I don't like all these forms personally, but the process is
not new or irregular.

Nor is 'grow' as tr. verb new. My Sociolx students came up with a list of
such usages last year--all I can remember off the top of my head are
variants of "grow crops" (grow tomatoes, grow corn...), but they noted
several common and traditional phrases with tr. 'grow'. The semantic issue
is another thing, of course, esp. when Alan Greenspan uses the phrase below!

At 11:29 AM 6/25/98 -0400, you wrote:
>The problem I have with forms like "incent" is semantic: what EXACTLY does
>it mean? It seems to me that it can mean variously "provide incentive" or
>"provoke" or "fail to provide disincentive," etc.
>The same thing happens with the relatively new tr verb "grow" as in "to
>grow the economy" -- does it mean "improve the economy" [and, if so, by
>whose standards?] or "increase the GNP" or "decrease inflation"??? Who