David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   

October 7, 2018

This week I heard a new word: "sunsetting," as in "this program will be sunsetting in 2019," or, for those of you still scratching your balding heads, "being phased out."  I heard it used multiple times over the course of several days.  Apparently it has been used in legal and business terms for quite awhile; in this case, academics have appropriated its use, not invented it.

Then last night during a baseball game, I heard analyst Ron Darling talk about the art of "bullpenning," how pitchers in the bullpen, especially during a playoff game, have to prepare to come in, or not come in, via specialized process. Of course baseball sunset the complete game idea several years ago.

Verbing, turning nouns into verbs, goes back many years.  In some ways, it reflects the beauty of language, maybe English especially, because language is fluid, changing as needed.  Nevertheless, I am  not the first to question its general overuse.  People much more brilliant than me have, no-one more so than Hobbes (via Bill Watterson).

Still, I can't help but dream of sunsetting verbing:


As I wander into my years of sunsetting,

I can't help but question if all our trendsetting,

Means one day the human race will be regretting

The way we drained language through our bloodletting,

The first signs of our eventual soul shredding,

Indication of future acts more upsetting,

The psychopath's earliest sign like bedwetting.


Forgive me now for this poem's thermosetting,

For my hyperbolic symbolic gibbeting.

Guilty as charged for aiding and abetting,

I endorse the right look to make my point-getting,

In the end I offer my feeble vignetting,

Twisting of the tongue is my best coquetting.