Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Modern Family and Marian Keyes: Pioneers in Verbing Names?

We recently bought the first season of Modern Family on DVD, and as we're watching (and in some cases re-watching) the episodes, I am once again reminded why I labeled it a "treasure trove of linguistic anomalies."

In the episode "Moon Landing," Phil (one of the primary characters, who is a real estate agent) is driving by a bench that has a billboard for his realtor services; the billboard, quite naturally, has a large picture of his face. Someone had defaced his picture by giving him a mustache with a black marker, which prompted Phil to say:

I take it seriously when someone Tom Sellecks my bus bench.
I've written posts about our ability to use people's names in English to signify so much more than that person ("my Ludlums", "to pull a X"); this usage is different because it not only signifies a physical quality of Tom Selleck (his mustache) but also is coerced into being a verb meaning, in this case, "to draw a fake mustache on a picture."

The usage of a person's name as a verb reminded me of one of my favorite examples of a quoting verb, which I found in Anybody Out There? by Marian Keyes:

"Siddown," she Don Corleoned. (page 321)
In this case, the name Don Corleone represents characteristics associated with Don Corleone (specifically how he speaks and takes command of a situation) and is coerced into a verbal meaning of "to say in a manner worthy of Don Corleone."

Off the top of my head, these are the only examples I could come up with of a person's name being used as a verb. Can you think of any others?

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