Date: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 10:23:16 -0700
From: "A. Vine"
Subject: Re: "incent"

Peter McGraw wrote:
> Gosh, I'm surprised at so many linguists (well, roughly two so far)
> rejecting "incent." C'mon, Bethany and Mark, are you sure you're not
> rationalizing (linguistifying? Or should I say "linguing"?) the secret
> prescriptivist impulses we probably all harbor?

I reject "incent" and I'm not a linguist (sounds like a confession). The
feeling is too negative to use for the apparently positive purpose for which it
seems intended. It is too close to "incense" and "incite", both of which have
negative connotations. "Incentive" is a positive word for me, and I wouldn't
want to dampen that.

Whatever happened to "motivate"?

> As for "incentivize," that makes me cringe even more, with that suffix
> that's the shibboleth par excellence of advertising jargon.

I concur, "incentivize" is too fiddly and jargon-like for everyday speech.

> And as for
> being "derived by an existing and widespread process," maybe
> back-formation isn't as widespread as suffixation, but it's certainly
> "existing." What about "intuit"? That always makes me cringe a tiny
> bit, too, but it's similarly useful and I see it's well enough
> established to have made it into my first-edition AHD.

I have a lot of trouble understanding "intuit". Intuition is more of a state;
that is, one cannot acquire or impart it. What can you "intuit"? Does it mean
stating a decision or prediction based on intuition? Pretty lame, especially
since intuition is not a basis one usually asserts.

> Even though "incentive" is derived from the p.p. of "incinere," I
> say let's not incinerate it just yet.

Well, "incent" sounds like one of them there inevitable words, but those of us
who object do not have to use it. I for one cannot be incented in that