The Changing Faces of “Present” and “Presentation”
Present belongs to a group of English words that, with a shift in pronunciation, may be either noun or verb.
present [prĕz’ənt] n. (accent on the first syllable) – a gift
present [prĭ-zĕnt’] v. (accent on the second syllable) – to introduce,
to give an award
In an article about the 2009 Academy Awards, I noticed a third use of present that may be in the process of entering the language:
Best Present: Copresenters Steve Martin and Tina Fey, who’ve been funny together on TV and film, delivered a hilarious tribute to writers that made us want to see them make another movie together. —Erik Pedersen, E! Online
Here Pedersen is using present as a shortened form of presentation. In the way of the web, Pedersen’s words have been copied by numerous bloggers and it may only be a matter of time before we hear present
[prē’zĕnt] for presentation the way we hear invite [ĭn’-vīt] in place of invitation.
presentation [prĕz’ən-tā’shən] n. – the act of presenting
A presentation can be a gift, or it can be something like a lecture or a slide presentation.
Evidence that the cropped form present for presentation may have already caught on with some users appears in these headlines used to introduce slide shows on the web:
OM slide Present
SHN Membership Slide Present 2006
In looking for examples of this new, unlovely use of present, I came across a (to me) new use of presentation. When used on a wedding invitation, the expression “presentation preferred,” means “forget the gifts, we want cash.”
This comment from a wedding forum shows that not eveyone is comfortable with this use of presentation:
My soon-to-be mother in-law is really against “presentation”, but it’s our wedding, not hers ! I guess when we showed her the sample of the invite, she didn’t notice the “presentation” on it.
Ah, the accelerate of linguistic change!
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