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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 59

Backwoods immediately begat backwoodsman and was itself turned into a common adjective. The colonists, indeed, showed a beautiful disregard for linguistic nicety. At an early date they shortened the English law-phrase, to convey by deed, to the simple verb, to deed. Pickering protested against this as a barbarism, and argued that no self-respecting law-writer would employ it, but all the same it was firmly entrenched in the common speech and it has remained there to this day. To table, for to lay on the table, came in at the same time, and so did various forms represented by bindery, for book-binder’s shop. To tomahawk appeared before 1650, and to scalp must have followed soon after. Within the next century and a half they were reinforced by many other such new verbs, and by such adjectives made of nouns as no-account and one-horse, and such nouns made of verbs as carry-all and goner, and such adverbs as no-how. In particular, the manufacture of new verbs went on at a rapid pace. In his letter to Webster in 1789 Franklin denounced to advocate, to progress, and to oppose—a vain enterprise, for all of them are now in perfectly good usage. To advocate, indeed, was used by Thomas Nashe in 1589, and by John Milton half a century later, but it seems to have been reinvented in America. In 1822 and again in 1838 Robert Southey, then poet laureate, led two belated attacks upon it, as a barbarous Americanism, but its obvious usefulness preserved it, and it remains in good usage on both sides of the Atlantic today—one of the earliest of the English borrowings from America. In the end, indeed, even so ardent a purist as Richard Grant White adopted it, as he did to placate. 26
  Webster, though he agreed with Franklin in opposing to advocate, gave his imprimatur to to appreciate (i. e., to rise in value, and is credited by Sir Charles Lyell 27 with having himself invented to demoralize. He also approved to obligate. To antagonize seems to have been given currency by John Quincy Adams, to immigrate by John Marshall, to eventuate by Gouverneur Morris, and to derange by George Washington. Jefferson, always hospitable to new words, used to belittle in his “Notes on Virginia,” and Thornton thinks