July 2011 | Home
U-M librarian Justin Joque's "sonification" of stock market activity since the 1930s provides weird and revealing insight into the economy.
Wise folks say that wisdom can only be earned by experience, but new research indicates that there might be a way to develop your capacity to make wise decisions.
What do you think about "-ize" words? Many people deplore them, but that probably doesn't make much difference.
"Super 8" is a reminder of those old films we used to shoot, grainy, silent and lovely, about our lives. And how a handful of great directors got their starts in their own backyards.
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Is problematize a problem?
July 13, 2011
There are some words that occur primarily, if not exclusively, in academic discourse. Discourse might be one of those words.
Another one of those words is problematize.
In academia, we problematize things. Outside of academia, we probably just "trouble" them. The word "problematize"—in other words, "to render something problematic"—first occurs in English near the beginning of the twentieth century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Now there are people who don't like "problematize," who don't see it as part of a long history of -ize words in English. We have several centuries of -ize verbs in English, both from nouns and from adjectives, either borrowed from Latin or derived in English using the Latin suffix (which itself was originally from Greek).
We also have a long history of people criticizing -ize verbs. So for example, Benjamin Franklin, in 1760, in a letter to David Hume, says that he gives up the verb colonize because he sees it as bad. Now, we now see this concern as quaint, but the complaints keep going. In the New York Times, in the year 2000, Edward Rothstein wrote an article in which he criticized incentivize as "boorish, bureaucratic mis-speak."
It's important to remember when we see a criticism like that of incentivize that that criticism will probably seem as quaint in 50 or 100 years as the criticism of colonize seems to us today.
What do you think? Do you "-ize"? Or do you dislike those new verb forms? Which are your favorites? Which drive you crazy? Share your thoughts in the comments.
is Professor of English Language and Literature and an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor. She also has faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.