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"reference" used as a verb

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"reference" used as a verb

Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Jan 16, 2006 5:29 am

What kind of a verb is "reference" ?

I came across the following sentence in the NY Times:

"Ney is at the center of the Justice Department's ongoing corruption probe and has been identified as the congressman referenced by Abramoff in his guilty plea earlier this month."
(Jan 15, 2006, “Ohio Republican Tied to Lobbyist to Cede Post")

According to my American Heritage "reference" is not a verb at all. According to them, it is only a noun.
The Collins Cobuild has a verbal example labelled with the rather mysterious notation "V n." But does that label allow for the "by"?

It seems to me that it should be a simple transitive verb in the passive voice (". . . the congressman that was referenced by Abrmoff . . . ." Does the deletion of the relative clause marker account for the deletion of the "be" portion of the passive?

Any comments?
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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:03 am

I would say that the fact that you didn't find it in any dictionary doesn't mean the word doesn't exist, as you can see in your example. It's just a time for lexicographers to take notice of it and record it. Besides, English is famous (or infamous?) for verbing its nouns, so there's nothing unusual there. If it can be a verb, it will inevitably enjoy all the perks of being a verb, among them being constructed in the passive, as is the case in your excerpt with an implicit be.

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Last edited by Brazilian dude on Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon Jan 16, 2006 8:15 am

From Merriam-Webster's dictionary:

Main Entry: 3reference
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -enced; -enc·ing
1 a : to supply with references b : to cite in or as a reference
2 : to put in a form (as a table) adapted to easy reference


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Postby Flaminius » Mon Jan 16, 2006 11:56 am

Reference as a verb is an established computer jargon. To my utter dismay, a derivative therefrom is dereferencing.

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Postby Stargzer » Mon Jan 16, 2006 6:59 pm

Since I don't normally believe much of anything I see in the New York Times, I did a lookup on "referenced."

The Quick Definition provided by OneLook is:

Quick definitions (referenced)

adjective: supported with written references or citations (Example: "A carefully referenced biography")
See reference


Looking up "reference" we see that The American Heritage Dictionary has, in part:

TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: ref·er·enced, ref·er·enc·ing, ref·er·ences
1. To supply references to: “Our memories are addressed and referenced . . . by significant fragments of their own content” (Frederick Turner). 2. To mention in a reference; refer to: He referenced her book in his speech. See Usage Note at allude.


So at least this time the Editors of the NYT are on firm ground.
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Postby sluggo » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:41 pm

Stargzer wrote:Since I don't normally believe much of anything I see in the New York Times, (snip)


I semi-agree with Stargzer: consider the source. While I think a discussion of the NYT editorially belongs somewhere else, they do have a questionable record on copy editing (are they still using {gasp} apostrophes to pluralise years e.g. "1960's"?)

I think of "referenced" one of the insidious hack word-wannabes of our time that one hopes will die like dogs, along with aforementioned apostrophical plurals. Actually, I take that back, I love dogs. Just an expression. Let's burn them at the stake.

A couple of my other most-loathed contemporary hack nonverbs: grow as in "we will grow this company" and speak to to mean speak of...
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:00 pm

sluggo wrote:A couple of my other most-loathed contemporary hack nonverbs: grow as in "we will grow this company" and speak to to mean speak of...


There's nothing weird with "grow" here. It's the same usage as "we will grow this plant." And "speak to" just has a different preposition. What's so offensive about prepositions? :D
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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:41 pm

malachai wrote:
sluggo wrote:A couple of my other most-loathed contemporary hack nonverbs: grow as in "we will grow this company" and speak to to mean speak of...


There's nothing weird with "grow" here. It's the same usage as "we will grow this plant." And "speak to" just has a different preposition. What's so offensive about prepositions? :D


In the 2nd case, to fully articulate, it's when used on an inanimate or abstract- for example:
"This example speaks to these careless language trends" -actually intended to mean "This example speaks about these careless language trends". The example is not talking to the trend as an audience or expecting the object to answer; rather it's describing it in the third person. I suppose it may be a confusion of "addresses", which actually can mean "speak to" (the Prime Minister addresses the Congress) but you can't speak to ideas (what would they say?).

"to grow" is an action something does, not does to something else. I can grow, the company can grow, I can help the company grow, but it's the company that does the growing.
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Postby Bailey » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:42 pm

I believe Sluggo wasn't upset about prepositions but how they are used in conjunction with certain adjectival nouns.

mark I think-he's-spoiling-for-a-fight Bailey

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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:44 pm

Bailey wrote:I believe Sluggo wasn't upset about prepositions but how they are used in conjunction with certain adjectival nouns.

mark I think-he's-spoiling-for-a-fight Bailey


Thanks Bailey, no I'm not upset, I've been prepositioned to many times already...
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:47 pm

"to grow" is an action something does, not does to something else. I can grow, the company can grow, I can help the company grow, but it's the company that does the growing.


When I grow a plant, I am causing the plant to grow. Same as when I grow a company.
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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 1:58 pm

malachai wrote:
"to grow" is an action something does, not does to something else. I can grow, the company can grow, I can help the company grow, but it's the company that does the growing.


When I grow a plant, I am causing the plant to grow. Same as when I grow a company.


Just to be picky (moi?) the soil's nutrients and the sun cause it to grow, but yes, you can "grow a plant". Just not a factory. :wink:

Why not?
malachai wrote:I don't think it makes sense to complain about it because it isn't logical - language is not logic
(see irregardless)
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Postby malachai » Sun Aug 06, 2006 2:01 pm

sluggo wrote:
malachai wrote:
"to grow" is an action something does, not does to something else. I can grow, the company can grow, I can help the company grow, but it's the company that does the growing.


When I grow a plant, I am causing the plant to grow. Same as when I grow a company.


Just to be picky (moi?) the soil's nutrients and the sun cause it to grow, but yes, you can "grow a plant". Just not a factory. :wink:

Why not?
malachai wrote:I don't think it makes sense to complain about it because it isn't logical - language is not logic
(see irregardless)


I'm not sure what my comment about language and logic has to do with this.

You are of course free not to use the phrase if you don't like it. But don't expect other speaker to conform to your linguistic habits. :D
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Postby Bailey » Sun Aug 06, 2006 5:08 pm

sluggo wrote:
Bailey wrote:
mark I think-he's-spoiling-for-a-fight Bailey


Thanks Bailey, no I'm not upset, I've been prepositioned to many times already...

Really, and how does this happen? I want to know...

mark inquiring-minds-and-all-that Bailey

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Postby sluggo » Sun Aug 06, 2006 7:30 pm

malachai wrote:
I'm not sure what my comment about language and logic has to do with this.

You are of course free not to use the phrase if you don't like it. But don't expect other speaker to conform to your linguistic habits. :D


Hey, as long as there's only the one I can live with that.
I don't expect him/her to conform to anything (did I say that?), but it's still going to sound like illiterate hack-speak. That's his problem, not mine.

[hairsplit]The plant will grow whether you grow it, I grow it or nobody is involved. The company will not.{/hairsplit]

I think if we all spoke alike it would be rather uninteresting. The variety we do have in the world is why we're here.

Now Bailey, your query, as usual, is deeper. I'm gonna have to give that some thought...
Last edited by sluggo on Sun Aug 06, 2006 8:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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