Tuesday, October 6, 2015

"Street" is a noun, an adjective, an adverb, and several different verbs

From the University of Ottawa: "Traditional grammar classifies words based on eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection. Each part of speech explains not what the word is, but how the word is used. In fact, the same word can be a noun in one sentence and a verb or adjective in the next."
Often, a word first appears as a noun, and then becomes a verb. "Ship" made the transition long ago. "Party" is a recent example. "Party on, Garth."

As a grammar geek, I am particularly fascinated by the transition of the word "street."

It started as a noun, and has worked as an adjective ("street clothes") and adverb ("he talks street"), and now functions as several kinds of verb:

When there's not enough evidence to hold a suspect, the precinct lieutenant or captain may tell the detectives "We'll have to street him," meaning release him so he can go out on the street.

Patients released from mental facilities are also streeted: "As long as Burnside stays on his meds, we can street him."

In retailing, the "street price" is a typical selling price for an item "on the street" -- usually lower than the suggested retail price. A sales manager might say, "The list price for our new KZR-202L is 799.95, but it will probably street for $699."

In video games, music and movies, the "street date" is the date when a new release is allowed to be sold "on the street." This date allows manufacturers and retailers to unite their promotional efforts when they will be sure that products will be available in stores. The sales manager might say, "The 3D Blu-Ray will ship on December 3rd and street on December 10th."

Retailers usually receive merchandise before the street date and can be punished by manufacturers for "breaking street."

Books often have a "release date" instead of a "street date." Many books are sold before their release dates.

The authoritative Oxford English Dictionary says that to street ("streeting," actually) is the action or process of building a street or streets.

An online comment from Alan W.: "
Yet another use of streeting that I kept coming across was in expressions like "streeting the field" and "streeting the opposition", used in sports writing to mean achieving a decisive victory. The origin of this sense isn't obvious to me - from the phrase streets ahead, perhaps?"

"Boulevarding" is a gathering or stroll on a boulevard, so maybe someday streeting will come to mean walking on the street.

(photos from Google Images [photographer unknown],  NBC, Disney, SMU)

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