1.38 million instances?

Leave morphological derivation to the professionals.

In too early, I note that Chris quoted and used the word “securitisation”, which I’ve never ever seen before. I did a search via Google and found, to my surprise, 574K hits for it, and 1.38M if you spell it with a “z”. It’s obviously one of those pretentious, contrived Americanisms, a bit like the loathsome and odious “weaponize”, which, I assume, has been coined by someone trying to devise a term which sounds formal where the extension of some existing word would probably do. In this case, “securing” would seem to be adequate.

Nonetheless, from what I can tell, the word does have a meaning which “securing” may not be specific enough to encompass without the meaning being uncertain or ambiguous (although there’s no reason why “securing” couldn’t have gained a specialised sense of which the rest of the world would remain blissfully unaware). It seems to be principally used in the world of finance in the matter of loans, but is also used in international relations where it seems to mean the use of security concerns as an excuse for a particular undertaking.

I think my biggest problem with the word is how artificial it is as a blend of “security” and “-isation”. In my English, the suffix “-ity” is the end of the line. After that, it’s not possible to add any further derivational morphemes. I can pluralise it and, er, that’s it. The word “secure” is both a verb (e.g. “I secured the loan”) and an adjective (e.g. “The loan is secure”). There seems to be no need to add “-ify” or “-ise” to make the adjective factitive since the verb already does that. Strangely, I find that while “securification” sounds odd, I’m less bothered by “securisation”, which gets 272K hits via Google. Spelling the word with a “z” gets a mere 11K and gets a message “See results for: securitization” at the top of the page, whereas the former gets much the same message (but the s-spelling) a little further down. Of course, “securisation” does not necessarily imply “securise” or “securisate”. A non-native speaker with a sufficient knowledge of English might guess that “derivation” and “renovation” come from “derive” or “derivate” and “renove” or “renovate”, but could not be certain without consulting a dictionary. It’s one of the numerous quirks of the English language.

Let securitisation stay in the world of banking where, no doubt, it does a good job as part of the obfuscatory gibberish of high finance. But I’d rather not be exposed to such morphological Frankenstein’s monsters myself.

[09.11.13. I also note such morphological mutants as “monetize” as some means of avoiding the phrase “make money” or the verb “profit (from)”. The word also sounds aggressive and military. Since I wrote this entry, I’ve never seen “securitisation” again. Perhaps “surety” might also have been a better choice.]


5 thoughts on “1.38 million instances?”

  1. Actually, although I found the word odd, ugly, and unnecessary (secure would’ve been more than enough to convey the desired meaning) what bugged my about that sentence was the implication that property rights might be in any way secure in China, and that they have been since the start of reform and opening up. Anybody even vaguely familiar with China knows that is not the case.But yes, you are absolutely right in your analysis of that word.

  2. I’ve often wondered where these ‘isms’ and ‘izations’ come from because they’re not words used in common everyday language. So it leaves open the question of who is ‘creating’ them and as your title suggests the opposite, i.e. that professional *aren’t* doing this, I’d pose that it is indeed the so called professionals that pull these words out of an ass (or put them into the mouth of one). So it’s not that the words are coming from uneducated reasoning, but quite the opposite – GW Bush’s speech writers for instance have the President say many things like -ization, -ize etc., and they are supposed to be highly educated and worded people. So there is an interesting sense of deliberate bastardisation of the language for the sake of what…? Personally (as you know ;o) ) I’m not fond of these corruptions of language because it’s the height of laziness and elitism (using language as a deliberate barrier to understanding).
    Anyway, I hope you are well, as you’ve probably noticed I don’t hang around MSN blogs as much as I used to but it’s good to know you’re still blogging away and trying to currput the Chinese ;o)

  3. If I made words like these, they’d be intended as a joke. I assume that some of them come into being because the person who coined them is trying to sound sophisticated (by using Latinate vocab), but ruins the effect because the result merely displays the creator’s linguistic incompetence. Or if you like words like these, you could say that they display daring innovations in the English language by going beyond the paradigm.
    Securitisation does sound like the sort of word Rory Bremner would use in a parody of Ayatollah Dubya.
    Nice to know you still drop by now and then, Ken. :)

  4. Native speakers should be competent at handling the morphology of their language and should be able to innovate. We admire it when it’s done well and cleverly, and cringe when it’s done badly and ineptly.

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