Sunday, May 22, 2005

Blog this. Blog about this.

Last week I began to say something about blog/blog about and Chris I mean an anonymous commenter followed up:

what about the verb to write up? you can write up an experience, right? or, can't i write this up? i'm not sure if that counts. do write and up combine to form a single verb in a way that's different from how the verb blog and the corresponding about join in a phrase? it feels like it's different.

or, what if we're taking a cue from the etymological origins of blog, the verb log? can't i log data? or log a story?

it also seems like report functions in exactly the same was as transitive blog.

So I think that blog and blog about can be used more or less interchangably (in cases where there's some object) in a way that write and write about cannot. In fact, write and write about mean very different things, as seen in (2) below:

1a. I blogged the convention.
1b. I blogged about the convention.

2a. I wrote a letter.
2b. I wrote about a letter.

Write up/down is a more interesting case:

3a. I wrote the report.
3b. I wrote up the report.
3c. ?I wrote down the report.

4a. I wrote the answer.
4b. I wrote down the answer.
4c. I wrote the answer down.
4d. I wrote up the answer.
4e. ?I wrote the answer up.

(3a) and (3b) do feel pretty close, although I think the two use slightly different pragmatics. Write up seems to connote some some sense of self-containment, maybe even something like completedness -- the report contains everything it needs to.

I'm not sure what to make of the facts in (4c-e). If (4c) and (4d) are both okay, even given admittedly different pragmatics, I can't figure out why (4e) is slightly degraded. But it is.

Type is another case similar to write, although there's no down variant:

5a. I typed the report.
5b. I typed up the report.
5c. *I typed down the report.

But back to verb/about cases. The others I can come up with all feel closer to write/about than they do to blog/about:

6a. Did you hear the crash?
6b. Did you hear about the crash?

7a. I read the paper.
7b. I read about the paper.

I'm still looking for a case where [verb] and [verb about] are equivalent.


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