What is a word?

The process of evolution and coinage of new words never ceases to fascinate me, yet I find myself cringing at the use of words which were created by the bastardizing of nouns into verbs, for example “liaise” and “incentivize,” neither of which will I accept in written works I review for publication (although I admit that “liaise” is in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, it is labeled a British colloquialism and therefore I reject it in formal American writing). I have only recently become resigned to the word “syncing.” Which begs the question: At what point does a word become acceptable in formal usage? How about if a word has been in use for hundreds of years? According to Merriam-Webster, the precursor to the word “ain’t” was first used in 1618 – but ain’t is still considered to be a “nonstandard” contraction. Obviously a word associated with a new invention, such as the Internet or the smartphone, receives the imprimatur of society almost immediately, since it has hardly any competition. So … what makes a word legitimate?

The meaning of collaboration

In the past year while reviewing the work of other writers I have stumbled more than once upon the phrase “working collaboratively” used to describe the working relationship between or among several parties, and I found my brain snagging on it.  The word “collaborative” is an adjective that literally means “working together” — notice the word “labor” hiding inside — so to say “working collaboratively” is not only redundant, but is the warping of an adjective into the form of an adverb which, at least according to Webster’s New World Dictionary, does not exist! Can anyone provide me with a proper use of the adverb “collaboratively” that does not modify the word “work”? Think about it.

Seen October 3, 2012 in a job description: ” … This individual will also collaborate and work cross-functionally with the Marketing department to deliver selling stories that can be used by [company deleted] Sales organization and our Broker Network.”

IMHO a proper use of the word “collaborate” AND a better adverb modifying “work” – yay!