Wednesday, 8 November 2017

And We'll All Be Merry And Bright...

I always thought merry was an adjective 
The dictionary offers 

  • cheerful and lively
  • characterized by festivity and enjoyment.
  • [informal] slightly and good-humouredly drunk.
So what did this sign in House of Fraser mean?
Is seems to imply that MERRY is a noun 

I've got it! It must refer to Merry the Hobbit, aka Meriadoc Brandybuck. 
Maybe he has been kidnapped
Poor best friend Pippin.
Then I went into Starbucks
 Oh no! Merry has clearly been liquidated!
I suspect the Hobbit is OK. I am slightly more concerned about the casual way in which we are murdering the English language! 
Similarly I have discovered that uplevel - a word I understood to be an adjective relating to a higher version number in computing [a technical term] - is now used as a verb for doing it better [You need to uplevel your writing]
And that magpie is no longer just a noun meaning a black and white bird, it is also a verb meaning to steal ideas. [You must magpie some words from your classmates' work]
I am all for developing people's vocabulary - but is it necessary to do it with made-up words? And it isn't just in schools that we seem to casually turn nouns into verbs - it happens in church too. This evening I shall be busy fellowshipping with my friends!! 


  1. But surely this has always happened? It's how languages evolve? We tell people to 'knuckle down', and that's not an issue. And Shakespeare introduced a whole bunch of words and phrases that we have no complaints about using now... I'm in favour of good grammar and spelling, but what's wrong with being creative?!

    1. You make a valid point Steph. Wondering why you chose "knuckle down" which is a pretty old phrase. I think I was just uncomfortable with the use of the adjective 'merry' when they could have used the associated noun 'mirth' instead.

    2. I agree with you Steph, breaking the rules of language is often used in literature as a way to be creative. Native speakers of English could read the signs and understand exactly the sentiment being expressed.

  2. I am also baffled the the use of uppercase letters on each sign-bah humbug. Catriona

  3. This isn't a practice that garners praise from me. I'm old school, a cheerful and unapologetic Luddite and am content with the world passing by me.

  4. Merriment is surely the correct noun but perhaps your average Tom, Dick or Harry lacks this term in their vernacular according to the sign maker. Who knows?
    I get very annoyed with the making up of words at times. I have children who day, "Shall I ON the lights?" (Or "Off them") which always receives a firm rejoinder!

    1. I think you are right about merry and merriment. I get irritated when people use 'higher' as the opposite of 'lower' and say things like 'We must higher our standards'

  5. I think if one can share a "cup of kindness" (Auld Lang Syne), there should be cups of merry, as well. :)


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