Wednesday, September 9, 2015

If Architect is a Verb, I Are One, Too.

Kanye West’s observations aside, I have never used the word architect as a verb.  I am one. 

Call me a fuddy duddy, but I speak English the way I learned it in high school. Not perfectly, mind you, but there are things I just cannot bring myself to say out loud.   I acknowledge that language does change over time, but sometimes it changes for the wrong reasons.  The simple fact that certain people recognize the word “literally” to mean the exact opposite of the word's true definition, and means “figuratively” drives me nuts.  We adjust a definition because it is used incorrectly by some inane segment of the population?  It just makes me think of about a bunch of hipsters complaining to each other about going to a club to which they really want to go, but have to pretend to their fiends that they are only really going to visit to be “ironic”.  That last word was placed in quotes to recognize that it was not used in a way approved by my late English teacher, Ms. Clouser.  When there is a word for what you mean, use it.

Another thing that I don’t understand is why we (as a culture) assign new words to things that already have a name.  Where did “signage” come from?  What about the word “sign” is insufficient to describe either the verb of signaling or the noun that perpetrates the act?  Also around the studio, you hear the suffix “-age” applied to other words that don’t need it.  “I am in the mood for some funnage?” or “I need to get my grubbage on!”  Does it add to your street cred?  (Ironic shortening of word acknowledged).  I’ve even heard it in design references when someone doesn’t have quite the right word, like “that elevation needs something; we need to add a little dormer-age or something.”

I have never architected.  I design.  I problem solve.  I coordinate systems.  I have even used the term practice.  I have used the term “doctor” as a verb, but never in the context of treating an illness.  And when one “lawyers” up, they are not acting as a lawyer, but are in need of one.  The science and art of architecture, for me, does not translate into fashion design or sneakers or even computer science.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t feel as though we need to speak in iambic pentameter.  To me this is like naming your child Apple.  There is already a definition for that word, and there are other suitable words available that won't be confused with produce or iPods. 

Believe me, I wish I had come up with the idea my fellow PSU alumni Chris Patt had in his popular and clever How to Architect YouTube series and book.  I wish I had the insight available in his book before I entered architecture school, but grammar lessons prevent me from using “architect” as a verb.  But then again, here I am writing for free instead of for royalties, so who's the smart one?

And for the record, I hang around with architects, mostly.  Just like Kanye.

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