Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Noun or Verb?

Jules Léotard was a French trapeze artist. His revolutionary performances—performed without a safety net—were so inspiring to George Leybourne that in 1867 he wrote a song about Léotard: "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze."

But Jules' more famous legacy is the one-piece exercise wear that now bears his name. Originally designed to allow for flexible, unrestricted movement on the trapeze, Léotard is, quite literally, a man who became a noun. And he hardly stands alone. Behind some of our most common words stand real-life namesakes. Where would be without Louis Braille, Etienne Silhouette, Joseph Guillotine, and the Earl of Sandwich?

What would I have to popularize or become known for to become a noun? To have a name that is so closely tied to something that it becomes interchangeable? Will "pulling a Peggy" ever be used beyond the scope of my own family to indicate my penchant for practical jokes? Will "Johnstone Scale" ever become a mainstream way to measure enthusiasm? I find it a little under-whelming to become a noun with the ever-present risk of genericide (think kleenex, bandaid, and google).

I prefer to lend my name to verbification—the act of activating a noun. Today, I will choose a new verb for myself, and it will be fun. Today, I will be a verb.

"I think I am a verb." ~Buckminster Fuller


willow said...

I love this. I mention being a verb in one of my recent poems. Wonderful notion!


Bright Spirit said...

WHERE do you find these arcane stories?? You are a marvel at this. I am so glad I am genetically tied to a woman who truly can "pull a Peggy" - who knew? Really - I loved this post. Hugs, Mom

Peggy said...

Willow, I'm on my way over to your blog to snoop out the verb reference. Thanks for the lead!

Mom, glad you liked the post! <3

Kat Mortensen said...

Nice post, Peggy. I'm feeling a bit more adjectival than verbial. And don't even go there with the nouns!


Kat Mortensen said...

P.S. Your mom reads your blog too, eh? That's terrific!

Peggy said...

Kat, how perfectly lovely to see you again!