The urge to concierge

Each issue of The Atlantic ends with a Big Question of varying import, posed to several individuals presumably known to subscribers. The answers are usually predictable — the only thing I really need to hear from Bill McKibben, for instance, is the answer to “What’s your thermostat setting?” — but sometimes inscrutable. An example of the latter, from Sandra Tsing Loh, in the current (July/August) issue, in which the question is “How and when will the world end?”

The world — or at least my sense of an outside world — will end next year, when Barbara Walters finally goes off the air. I’m just old and cranky enough to not want to deal with any of it anymore when the great diva is no longer around to soothingly concierge my news, or newslike substances.

Being older and crankier than Loh, I’ll happily concede the utility of “newslike substances,” but “concierge” as a verb? Merriam-Webster, at least, is not on board with this particular weirding of the language — yet. (Note that I did not complain that Loh split an infinitive.)


  1. canadienne »

    21 June 2013 · 4:04 pm

    A French speaking colleague once ranted, “In English anything can be a verb!” I replied, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

    The French, of course, have an Académie to make sure people speak the language properly. I’m more in favour of linguistic flexibility, although I do get enraged when people use “literally” figuratively.

  2. fillyjonk »

    21 June 2013 · 5:02 pm

    I was rolling my eyes over the creation of new verbs back in the 90s (I was doing it before it was cool?) when Kinko’s had a series of ads about “the new way to office.”

    I will say, the one that really makes me grind my teeth is when someone says someone “gifted” them something, when the person gave them the item as a gift. Because there’s already a perfectly good verb for that (“They gave me a book”) without sounding all precious and special for saying “They *gifted* me a book.” Uuuuuuuggggggghhhhhhh.

  3. CGHill »

    21 June 2013 · 5:35 pm

    FJ: What’s your stance on “regifted” (the word, not the concept)?

  4. Tatyana »

    21 June 2013 · 5:51 pm

    That would be a perfect word to use as a verb when the French are present: “to concierge” (French origin). Another little coal to a infinite flame of Eng vs Fr hatred.
    As to Barbara W – she couldn’t retire too soon, if you’d asked me. Possibly, last century would be a perfect time. And brought Apocalypse to all her fans – that would be even better!

  5. CGHill »

    21 June 2013 · 6:33 pm

    At one time, she might have been a breath of fresh air. (Last century. Way last century.) Nowadays, the only reason to pay attention to her is to test my ongoing hypothesis to the effect that the legs are the last things to go.

  6. XRay »

    21 June 2013 · 10:01 pm

    Legs… where are they, how did I miss that. I need pay more attention, obviously.

  7. McGehee »

    21 June 2013 · 10:06 pm

    I can remember her stint as a network news co-anchor, back when “jumping the shark” was still “the 16th minute.” She was in her 46th minute already.

  8. CGHill »

    21 June 2013 · 11:11 pm

    Even Tom Brokaw (misidentified here as a CBS fixture) thought so.

    Try this from a DVF show two years ago:

  9. Charles Pergiel »

    22 June 2013 · 12:48 pm

    I saw Baba Wawa on SNL once. It might have been funny, it was a long time ago. I cannot tolerate talking heads. I recognized the uncouth use of concierge, but I understood what she meant. I think. I still have no idea what a split infinitive is.

  10. Jean »

    22 June 2013 · 1:26 pm

    I’ve always thought Babs was over-rated. Still do.

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