I Versed, You Versed, We Versed, They Versed

Superman and Mongul: born to verse:. Two-inch collectibles by Metz-Its. (www.funbeyonddriven.com)

A couple of weeks ago, we acquired a new superhero book. It’s an “I Can Read” book featuring six simplified stories about Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. One of them is called “Superman versus Mongul.” (That’s the one Mrs. Pursell read when Mbot brought the book in for show-and-tell.)

Tonight, after “Harry at the Seaside” (featuring Harry the Dirty Dog (not to be confused with Dirty Harry) and an ensuing conversation about the diet of sea slugs, which was upsetting (“but plants are living things!”), Mbot picked out an old superhero book we hadn’t read in a long time.

“Mom, who does Superman verse in this book?” he asked.

I was mystified. “What does that mean, Moon Pie?”

“It means…who’s the bad guy? Who does Superman fight?’

He was using “to verse” as the infinitive form of “versus.”

This is why I always ask when I don’t understand what he’s said. It’s usually me, not him.

According to www.etymonline.com (the best etymological dictionary I’ve found), “versus” is from the Latin, “turn toward or against.” Today, it would be such a useful word, “to verse,” meaning, “to be against,” or “to conflict with.”

I tend to shy from conflict, unless it’s a rousing intellectual debate with little at stake. But conflict is a part of life–as much as I yearn to, I can’t protect myself, the Bots, or the living plants devoured by the sea slugs from it. Somehow, talking about “versing”–(“Who did you verse today?”), the simple, casualness of the term seems to makes the minor conflicts of daily life seem inevitable–as they are–and okay.

I’m going to start to use it.

Did you verse anyone today?

7 thoughts on “I Versed, You Versed, We Versed, They Versed

  1. đŸ˜€
    Very nice!
    I had to learn English the good old hard way, and I have never been to the US. Up to now my favourite example of this tendency was ok as a verb. It was a headline where ok was used as a participle in the sense of “approved”, but I can’t remember the spelling (whether it was oked or okeyed or …?)
    However, I get really somber when I see los nativos mix up their and theirs and there’s or he’s and his and then call it “just a typo” because they hate being told.

    • Thanks for visiting! And it’s “okayed!” Oh, MANY native English speakers just cringe at the rampant misuse of all those things you mentioned–a pet peeve is the mixing up of “its” and “it’s.” A sad state of affairs. But I admit, I am not immune to such mistakes–a professor friend recently corrected my use of “lay” where I should have used “lie!”

    • Especially Batman verses for ice cream. On the last page of the book, all the superheroes are at the beach enjoying their Penguin-free world, and Superman has an ice cream cone. “Why does Batman not have an ice cream cone?” asked Mbot. No injustice will go unnoticed. Wait until he grows up and finds out that the world is generally unjust to poets.

  2. This is AWESOME!! We’ve been using “verbified” kid words & kid-styled lingo in my family since, well- @ least whence I was the child coining them!
    Have you ever heard of “The Wug Test”?
    When I was in high school, in basically the world’s coolest summer program ever conceived, I got to study in a 6-week college-level linguistics program coupled with a creative writing intensive (whatever happened THERE?!?!) Of the linguistics part, which included a bunch of stuff on kids’ acquisition of language, I have wistfully fond memories that come back like this: “Noam!! I LOVE that name!!” “Tabula rasa…” “This is a WUG.” I found this charming clip on YouTube of Prof. Wug doing her thing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElabA5YICsA
    Funny, the things you keep from the shimmery haze of school days!!
    Thanks for the add on FB, my biz page is there too, though I’m not giving it as much TLC as I’d like, these days!
    All good things to you & yours,

    • Chimene, The Wug Test ROCKS. I’m glad to know that, being only five months old, this blog is a bloggette, or a blogling, but the Bots would call it a baby blog. And I want me one of those summer courses. Congrats on your business–that looks fantastic. Love all the progressive food info on your fb site–I’ll definitely keep tuning in. And I want your gravatar. In size 9, please.
      So good to hear from you! Thanks for reading!
      PS: Just as of a few days ago, a “practical joke” in our household is now called a “foolish.” As in, “Ha! I just fooled you!” Obviously, you “play a foolish” on someone.

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