Heathens Conversate

Picking up my Little Honey Bunch from BART on Friday, I ask how his trip was.

Him:  There was hardly anyone on the train. I guess because it’s Good Friday.

Me (this is easier than using quotation marks and what not):  What is Good Friday again?

Him:   I don’t know. You’re the one who was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic school for nine years.

Me:  Hmmm.  Well let me try to remember.  I think it was the day Jesus was crucified, died and was buried.  But then why is it called ‘Good’ Friday?

Me:  Then Saturday…then Easter Sunday, he rose from the dead.  Then we eat chocolate bunnies.

Him:  Sure.  That’s makes perfect sense.

On another note, I was going to apologize for using the word ‘conversate’ since it’s a made up word from my Berkeley days.  Then, for kicks I looked it up!  IT’S IN THE DICTIONARY!  Originated in 1970-75.  Yup, yup…that was us who brought you conversate!  Sorry.



verb (used without object), con·ver·sat·ed, con·ver·sat·ing. Nonstandard except in some dialects.

to have a conversation; converse; talk.
1970-75;  back formation from conversation

The use of conversate  has soared since 2000, mostly in speech and in written records of speech. The term is a back formation from conversation,  created by dropping the suffix -ion,  and adding -e,  to produce a verb form.  Since it has essentially the same meaning as the more common and frequently used verb converse,  the term conversate  has been condemned in some circles as an unnecessary nonword. And, because the term occurs mostly among Blacks and Latinos, some discussions have become heated and impassioned, turning the word into a badge (both positive and negative) of a person’s class and education.
Conversate  reminds us that discussions about modern English must take into account the different types of English spoken in our diverse culture, rather than fixating on “correct” formal usage. When all is said and done, however, the term broadly remains nonstandard English.

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