i can't get no satisfying

at a poetry reading tonight, a short poet approached the mic and said 'let me just shortify this real fast.' later, the mc offered to 'shortify' the mic for a poet in a wheelchair (i believe she was in a wheelchair... my view of her was completely obstructed by a wall. It's possible she was also short.)

anyway, the interesting thing about 'shortifying' is that it forms a minimal pair with another more traditional word: 'shortening.' why didn't the poets say 'i'm going to shorten the mic'?

i have an intuition about this, but i've having trouble locating its origin. i believe it means that there is a state of 'shortness' or and when we 'shortify' we're bringing objects into accord with it. that is, the verb form actually takes what was once an attribute of people and turns it into an identity that a group of people share.

i'm reminded of my last post, and i think this applies to 'greening' as well, but that undermines my hypothesis that it's the verb form -ify-ing that creates the effect. mystery still unsolved!!
i wonder if the blogger on noncompositional, which i discovered earlier today, would have anything to say about that?


Natalia said...

it might also be that it sounds funkier (see funkify). might be a bit of a stretch, but i think that "f" is generally a really sexy phoneme.

Scott said...

it kind of seems to me like the usage of "shortify" has something to do with the language of products, advertising and marketing? shortify seems to be along the same continuum of words like "simonize", "child-proof" etc. an act upon an object that imbues it with new marketable qualities. maybe this is what you already said, but i wasn't sure.

Natalia said...

I saw a billboard for Comcast that reminded me of this. They have a whole series of ads targeted towards college students, and one of them said "Instant Connectification". So that supports your conjecture - obviously connectification = gratification, which is gratifying and satisfying. And I agree with what Scott's saying - this definitely seems to be marketing seeping into everyday life.

Adam said...

I think that it has something to do with the fact that 'shorten' has a commonly understood definition of "to make short", while 'shortify', as a word with no grammatical baggage, has a freedom of use that 'shorten' lacks.

Amandeep said...

I think "shortify" is just hipper and cooler sounding precisely because it is new.

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