Saturday, December 03, 2005

Creating new verbs and using them for creativity

About this post

Technique in a nutshell: use any random word or phrase and convert it into a verb form (ing). Create possibilities as to what the verb could mean.

Example: helium-ing = breathing in helium for squeaky voice effect, filling a balloon with helium etc.

Words and phrases can be converted into verbs and then interpreted to suggest new ideas. For the source of words/phrases I use results from the prefix/suffix/catchphrase methods, directed free association results, and the two-letter trigger method (explained below).


The catchphrase method produced the result 'Terrible Tim Witherspoon'. If I convert this to gerund (ing) form I get:


At this point I can consider what this new 'verb' means, or I can place the new verb within the context of a sentence. Fore example, with 'I' as the subject of the sentence and 'someone' as the object, I get the sentence:

I 'Terrible-Tim-Witherspoon' someone.

Then I can interpret the meaning of the new verb. This could mean (among endless possibilities):

I ask them if they remember Tim Witherspoon
I watch his fights with them
I introduce them to boxing
I tell them that their greatest achievements were in the past (!)

Example two

Using 'essential selection' from the catchphrase method I create the gerund:


Within a sentence this could give:

I 'essential-selection' someone

Possible interpretations of this:

I ask them what their favourite things are (a bit like Desert Island Disks, perhaps).
I ask them to do an important task
I introduce them to the 'Essential Selection' music
I help them become better at their job so they are an 'essential selection' when job hunting
I ask them how they choose products

Example three

From some directed free-association results I found '1960s'. As gerund form this gives '1960s-ing'. Within a sentence this reads:

I '1960s' someone

This could mean:

I educate them about the ways of the sixties
I dress them in fashions from the sixties
I take them in a time machine to the sixties (obviously fiction territory that)
I consider the sixties equivalent of their lifestyle now

The two-letter trigger method

I also use the two-letter trigger method to create verbs. When using this method I select two letters at random and use them to trigger words of one, two and three syllable (or more) words. The words listed can be nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives or any part of speech.


The letters 'p' and 't' could trigger the following words:

One syllable: peat, pete, pat, pet, put
Two syllables: pattern, peter, 'puter, potash, pittance
Three syllables or more: potato, potential, putative, pituitary etc.

(If I want to make comprehensive lists of words I can consult either a dictionary or the CrosswordBuddy tool.)

As in the examples above, I can convert the word into gerund form and then use the new verb within a sentence context. So with the word 'potato' I create the gerund 'potato-ing' and within a sentence I get:

I 'potato' someone

Which could suggest:

I tell them how they could produce some of their own food
I make a 'Mr Potato Head' style caricature of them
I throw a potato at them
I remind them of songs they may have known as a young child ('one potato, two potato, three potato, four)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

how about infravision. The word mostly used in fantasy contexts literally means to see beneath or below. As infrared light is below visible light, infravision mainly means to see the infrared. This leads to the idea of seeing in the dark (nightvision goggles etc). I prefer the gerneral concept of seeing what is not !supposed' to be seen or what is not regularly seen. Then we could create a new verb (to infravise) by copying improvision (to improvise) although infravision is also a noun. Anyway and are both connected.