Oriented vs. Orientated

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Mar 27 12:39:45 UTC 2001

At 2:42 PM -0500 3/27/01, James A. Landau wrote:
>  >   ENGLISH  : That gator really needs to get oriented.
>>    IRWINESE : We need to get him orientated.
>>to me, a speaker of good ol' american english, the >phrasing that sounds
>>right, of course, is the first one.  i started trying >to figure out why our
>>dare-devil hero chose to use the other form instead.
>>maybe it's a transitive/intransitive differentiation >that just isn't really
>>(if ever) used in a.e. -- getting the gator oriented
>>("orientated") versus
>>the gator getting himself oriented (just "oriented")
>I can think of two hypotheses to explain Irwin's wording, neither of
>which leads to a general rule or classification.
>Hypothesis 1: Irwin was familiar with the noun "orientation" but not
>with the less common verb "to orient".  Wishing to come up with the
>verb, he created "to orientate" as an ad-hoc back-formation.

But it's NOT ad hoc; it's been around since 1849, as the OED attests.

>Considering that some -ation nouns have associated verbs that end in
>-ate (e.g. navigation/navigate, elevation/elevate) and some have
>associated verbs that do not (e.g. application/apply,
>expectation/expect) and some lack verbs (e.g. consternation), Irwin
>guessed and guessed wrong.
>Hypothesis 2: "Orientation" has 2 meanings.
>     1).  to get your geographical directions or bearings (originally
>"to find out where east is")
>     2).  to be briefed on the local bureaucratic procedures/help
>locations/cafeteria schedules/whatnot
>     Possibly Irwin is in the habit of using "to orient" for meaning
>1) and "to orientate" for meaning 2)
Both readings are attested for both verbs in the OED.


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