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Just unsubscribed a bunch of emails and found a lot of sites would finally prompt "unsubscribe successful". The meaning is very clear and the expression is very concise. However, a verb + an adjective seems not grammatically correct here. I saw a few would say "...have been successfully unsubscribed" though.

So, why is this expression okay to use on most sites? Convenience overrides grammars?


EDIT:
Exception: 'Unsubscription' found! enter image description here

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    there is nothing overriding grammar here... that statement is a succinct but complete sentence employing telegraphic language... please search this website for that term – green_ideas Nov 17 at 16:09
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    'Convenience / punchiness overrides grammaticality' (subject to clarity) is the essence of headlinese. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 17 at 16:30
  • unsubscribe to something. [Why is this expression OK to use on most sites]. – Lambie Nov 17 at 17:23
  • I suspect (without evidence) that it would be like that on most sites because they're either using the same mailing list management software (perhaps with different on-screen styling but with the same text) or they're using software written by people who just copied phrasing they'd seen at other sites. – nnnnnn Nov 18 at 5:17
  • @nnnnnn That's a point, I also saw a lot, maybe small companies, use similar styled pages based on a same template. – Guoyang Qin Nov 18 at 5:35
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Unsubscribe was probably intended to be perceived as a noun here. Read that way, unsubscribe successful does not violate any rules of grammar. (It is admittedly not a grammatically complete sentence, but brief messages of this sort are generally not expected to be complete sentences.)

Whether such new nominalizations should be embraced or avoided is a matter of opinion. People whose jobs require them to frequently refer to a process of unsubscribing are likely to find it convenient to use unsubscribe as a noun. On the other side, those who are outside that world are likely to cringe upon seeing it, and to think of it as annoyingly jargonistic. It is probably wise for people in the former group to be mindful of how those in the latter group may react to this use of the word, when writing for them.

It remains to be seen which side will prevail over time, as many terms that were created by people in computing-related fields, as a part of their jargon, have percolated into uncontroversial everyday use over the last thirty years. Unsubscribe, used as a verb, may itself be an example.

Incidentally, prompt is not quite the right word for a message that says 'unsubscribe successful', given that it does not prompt one to do anything; its purpose is presumably to conclude the process.

  • Nominalizations, that's what I am looking for. I have noticed this phenomenon quite often. To make it grammatically correct, taking unsubscribe as a noun can well resolve the issue and comply with grammars. Having said that, what would "unsubscription" think of - "am I not supposed to be a more suitable candidate according to the conventional nominalization rules?" By the way, quite curious about if this verb-turned-noun-directly-regardless-of-conventional-nominalization mainly came from computer fields and if there is any linguistic study about this? – Guoyang Qin Nov 17 at 18:19
  • Additionaly, my first language is mandarin, in which we don't need things like nominalizations, because verbs and nouns take the same form. Yep, it is quite convenient. No conjugations also. So is there a trend in the development the English language that nominalizations or conjugations will be somewhat weakened to make it more convenient and efficient to use? – Guoyang Qin Nov 17 at 18:29
  • The word "subscription" is in standard dictionaries as the noun corresponding to the verb "subscribe", So "subscription [is/was] successful" would be standard English. However the analogous noun "unsubscription" matching the verb "unsubscribe" is not used. There is no logical reason why, or why not. – alephzero Nov 18 at 0:26
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    @GuoyangQin Dialects of English used mainly as a second language are certainly influenced by their users' native language, but it may take a long time for those changes to become "standard" in British or American English. – alephzero Nov 18 at 0:33
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    @GuoyangQin Keep in mind that these messages may be generated by a system that follows a generic "ACTION OUTCOME" format. It's not uncommon to favor logical simplicity over grammatical correctness as long as the message is clear. – Flater Nov 18 at 11:29
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I believe unsubscribe successful constitutes incorrect grammar, since unsubscribe is not a noun. However, the verb to unsubscribe does not appear to possess a canonical noun form - see the discussion here for instance. Note how this situation contrasts with that of the antonym to subscribe, which bears a canonical noun form: subscription. As far as I can tell, unsubscription is not a word, unfortunately.

  • I just saw the use of 'unsubscription' on Amazon though. See my question edit. – Guoyang Qin Nov 27 at 13:13
  • But even 'Attempt unsuccessful' constitutes incorrect grammar at some levels (as it is not a complete sentence syntactically). And 'Subscription successful', lacking a verb and semantically dodgy, is certainly dubious. @jsw29 discusses elegantly the levels at which this easy-to-understand but outside-the-limits-of-standard-grammar string might be considered acceptable. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 27 at 13:17

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