Nick Kam


Conjoined twins and legal conundrums

Conversion & Nominalization

Some would call it the evolution of language. Others would refer to it as bastardization. Take note of two complimentary phenomena affecting the English vernacular.

The manipulation of nouns into verbs is known as “conversion” or “verbing” (which is itself an example of conversion).

  • “It takes a certain kind of teacher to turn a teenage student who regularly truanted PE lessons into a county athlete in a matter of months.” (Liz Ford, “New Teachers and Old, Excelling All Round.” The Guardian, July 3, 2007)
  • “For sports lovers, you can try to get a bat or a golf club personally signatured by one of their favorite sportspersons, which is bound to be a real treat.” (“Exotic Christmas Gift Ideas” at the website Christmas Gifts Guide, 2009)
  • “An amateur baseball powerhouse, Cuba joined the tournament in 1939 and immediately beat Nicaragua for the title. Since then, it has won 25 titles in 37 tournaments, and has medaled 29 times.” (Benjamin Hoffman, “U.S. in Contention at 2009 Baseball World Cup.” The New York Times, September 19, 2009)


The manipulation of verbs into nouns is known as “nominalization.” These words are termed “hidden verbs,” “buried verbs,” or “smothered verbs.”

  • “My expectation was that counsel would make an objection,” could be simplified as “I expected counsel to object.”
  • “The defendant made a referral to Emily Graves, a financial planner, so Ms. Graves could provide the plaintiff with advice,” could be simplified as “The defendant referred the plaintiff to Emily Graves, a financial planner, so Ms. Graves could advise the plaintiff.”
Via UT Law.


Filed under: academia, , , , , ,


Nick Kam is a member of the California State Bar and a graduate of the University of San Francisco School of Law.

Half Guilty is an excerpt of a piece of legal scholarship which considers the case of punishing an innocent person for a murder her conjoined twin committed.

He can be reached here.

Dicephalic Parapagus Conjoined Twins

Dicephalic Parapagus Conjoined Twins

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