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I've seen the word 'communication' as a verb. Going by the provenance of the document, I'm reasonably sure that the author meant to use it in this context and that it wasn't a typo. E.g.:

How should we communication this?

I'm a British English speaker, and the author of the document is American. I'm used to seeing Americans use words in ways that seem 'novel' to me.

  1. There are some AmEng words that, as far as I can tell, have been invented where the equivalent word already existed, and are similar to that word. E.g. 'normalcy' vs 'normality', 'specialty' vs 'speciality'.
  2. There are some occasions where similar words have been re-purposed and the meaning conflated. E.g. 'utilize' vs 'use'.
  3. There are occasions words where words have been invented but which have a subtly different meaning (or not, depending who you ask). E.g. 'competency' vs 'competence'.
  4. Good old fashioned verbing. But surely this only happens when the word doesn't already exist? We already have 'communicate'.

Of course, sometimes we use a word in a way that no-one else ever has (to put it euphemistically).

Has anyone else seen 'communication' as a verb? I'm pretty sure the author has heard of the word 'communicate' so I doubt it's option 1 or 2. It could be option 3, in which case, what does 'communication' mean when it's a verb?

EDIT: I know that in standard AmEng 'communication' is a noun and 'communicate' is a verb. I'm not here to ask what the correct usage is, rather to see if anyone can shed light on the neologism by providing positive evidence.

  • How then would you distinguish a neologism from a common error? Is seperate a neologism or an error?? – Gary's Student Sep 23 '14 at 16:05
  • I have a feeling you could get several PhD theses out of that question. – Joe Sep 23 '14 at 16:09
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    For the record, specialty and speciality are variants from Old French that have both been part of English for over 500 years. Specialty was borrowed first, even. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 23 '14 at 17:16
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I'm American, "communicate" is the verb, "communication" is a noun. I've never heard anyone use the word in the sense you're describing. It's just an error.

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  • I agree. As I said to 'Gary's Student', I came here to see if anyone can shed any light on the neologism. If this were a piece of amateur writing I would assume it was a typo, but this is a piece of professional copy. – Joe Sep 23 '14 at 15:45
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    I think the explanation is simple. If it isn't a typo, then the author has just made a mistake. "Professional copy" isn't all it's cracked up to be. – shane Sep 23 '14 at 15:49
  • Maybe not. It was surprising to see it in such a document, as a headline, repeated. Thanks for your response. – Joe Sep 23 '14 at 15:53
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Communicate is a verb. The correct question should be:

How should we communicate this?

I know of no variations of English in which this is not true.

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  • Thanks. I know the 'correct' usage, that's why I came here to ask. I was looking for more information about the neologism, given that I'm more than 50% confident that it was intentional. – Joe Sep 23 '14 at 15:43
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    It may have been intentional, but it is still wrong. If more than one person decides to spell separate as seperate, that does not create a "neologism", it just repeats a common misspelling. – Gary's Student Sep 23 '14 at 15:49
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I am an American English speaker and have not heard this usage. The "verbing" theory does not make sense as I can't think of an instance where we've "verbed" a word that has such an explicitly noun-forming suffix like -tion. The impetus behind turning a verb into a noun is, usually, shortening the time it takes to convey a thought. So rather than "Let's set that discussion on the table," we've developed "Let's table that."

As you indicated, "communicate" already exists as a verb. The only thing I could imagine is that the writer could have been intending to convey "How should we turn this into communications?" Perhaps in this person's mind, that has a slightly different meaning than "How should we communicate this?" However the difference is so insignificant that I would say it is more likely a mistake. If it was done on purpose, it should not have been.

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    You can station something, partition a hard drive, etc. There are plenty of words in -tion that have been verbed, though I agree communication is not one I'd heard of before. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 23 '14 at 17:15
  • Nice ones...Although I was only thinking of -tion as a tacked-on suffix to an existing verb, as in the communicate - communication example. function might be another one, but unlike communication it wasn't formed by adding -tion to an existing word. It's interesting to note that in all these examples the root seems to be a Latin verb (partiri, stare, etc) – Matthew Urbas Sep 23 '14 at 21:24
  • Depends on what stage you're talking about—all these -tion words were borrowed from French, who has them from Latin, where they are derived from verbs (stāre, partīre, communicāre). Probably better to say that we don't tend to verb -tion nouns if there is a corresponding verb in current English, unless the corresponding verb is ‘different enough’ (vaguely put). Apparently, a case like commission is different enough from commit that it works. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 23 '14 at 21:36

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