I think the word I hate the most is “conversate.”  It’s not a word, but people seem to think it is.  I hear it from everyone every day, and on occasion, it even pops out of my mouth when I’m talking to my students, and I hate myself a little bit more.  I’ll be giving instruction, like “after you’re done silently reading you may turn to your partner and work through the guiding question.  This isn’t a time to conversate about your lives, this isn’t a time to avoid work, this is a time for you to get your work done in class…”  And as I’m standing there I know the students aren’t questioning me and the words I use (the ones they understand) and so I realize that whenever I use a word like conversate I am just encouraging the use of words I do not like.

This, however, is entirely out of character.  On any other given day you will find me extolling the virtues of the English language, and how malleable it is, about how its evolution is still going on to this day and will continue to change and grow and morph in the years beyond.  I will mention how google has now become a verb that means to search, and turns of phrase like “status update” are making their way out of the internet world into the human world.  My students will listen and not really understand (a) what I’m saying, or (b) care why I’m saying it, but I say it nonetheless.

But, starting with “conversate”, things have been going to far.

As I was working with my students on their projects this past Friday, I had them divided into the students who had chosen not to make a presentation, and the students who had chosen to make a presentation.  As I get to Malik (not his real name) I ask him what clips he will be using for his presentation, and he says he doesn’t want to make a presentation.

“Why?” I ask. “Didn’t you realize you chose one of the two options that required a class presentation?”

“Yeah.  But I don’t want to do no presentating.”

And I’m all for the malleability of the English language, but making up the verb “presentate” is going a little far ijn my estimation.  Can we not just converse and present?  Must we conversate and presentate?

I swear, as much as I appreciate the descriptive linguists who marvel in the changing shape of English today, what is bothering me even more is the fact that there are already words, shorter words, easier words, simpler words, for the words people are making up today.

And while is makes sense to turn:

  • estimation into estimate
  • education into educate

it does not make so much sense to turn

  • conversation into conversate
  • presentation into presentate, or
  • salvation in salvate

Although I might be wrong.  It could be salvate will be in the dictionary before the year is out, but I’m not willing to use it for the rest of my life.  (And I’m going to try and avoid conversate and presentate, too!)