I’m thrilled that contestants in the new season of Dancing with the Stars include two figure skaters who medalled in the Winter Olympics: Adam Rippon and Mirai Nagasu.
But when I mentioned the show to one of my friends, she made a face. Rippon and Nagasu weren’t the problem: it was my use of medalled. A medal is a thing and ever more shall be so, at least to her way of thinking.
What’s troubling my friend is a feature of English called “verbing” – turning a noun into a verb. Many people were bothered some years back when contact (“a person you communicate with”) became a verb (“getting in touch with someone”). I still get irritated when someone uses impact (“a collision”) as a verb (“have a strong effect”).
Here’s what we all need to do: get over it.
crank, wreck, protest, target, broadcast, mind, flower, mangle, bloom, weed, matter, fume, bin, welcome, protest, dread, hold, class, nettle, like, start, air, pose, state, peeve, comment, process, fancy, rant, look
Before I started writing today’s post, I went to the Oxford English Dictionary to see when medal was first used as a verb. My guess was that it’s been around since the 1970s or 1980s. Guess what? William Makepeace Thackeray first used medal as a verb in 1860.
While we’re on the subject, let’s try to crack another mystery: why does medalled have a double l? There’s a spelling rule (I used to teach it until spellcheckers came along) that says that you double the last letter when you add a vowel suffix (forget becomes forgetting) if a word ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel AND has a stressed final syllable.
Good grief. Did I really waste time teaching that mouthful? Yes, I did – sigh.
I just did a Google search for an explanation of the spelling of medalled. Here’s what I found out: Yes, you double the last letter if a word ends in a single consonant preceded by a single vowel AND has a stressed final syllable – but that rule doesn’t work 100% of the time.
So much for rules!
But it’s nice to know that medalled has been around for such a long time, and I’m glad my word processor has a spellchecker, and I’m thrilled Mirai Nagasu and Adam Rippon will be dancing on TV. Heck, I’m even happy that Tonya Harding is back. I love figure skating! (I’m probably the only person in the world who got a sympathy note from a friend when Dorothy Hamill decided to quit Dancing with the Stars.) Go, Olympics skaters! I’ll be cheering you all the way.