In Praise of the English Language

The best thing about the English language is that words travel freely between parts of speech - as evidenced by such beautiful constructions such as, "We should have red-flagged that for you" or even, if you're feeling wild, "Let me caveat that". Don't try that in German.

The second best thing about the English language is that these constructions are readily understood by anyone who knows the meaning of the word used in the standard way. I've just done a quick google search for the term "churner" (n.) and have only found
A vessel or device in which cream or milk is agitated to separate the oily globules from the caseous and serous parts, used to make butter.
Yet I had no problem understanding the following, in a post by Tyler Cowen about productivity and reputation in academia:
I take the lesson to be that lots of schools -- non-top departments -- want to hire churners with a lot of published output.
The way the sentence is constructed, it seems Cowen did not assume everyone would understand the word immediately; otherwise the phrase "with a lot of published output" would be superfluous. Is the word common?

It certainly seems useful, but I wonder: Should the term be used for anyone who produces output at a high rate or should we reserve it for those whose output couples high quantity with low quality. True, the two often go together, but not always. I am thinking of Michael Curtiz, who directed more than 150 films - about three in a typical year - including Doctor X, Gold Is Where You Find It, and Miss Tutti Frutti. As well as Casablanca. Was he a churner?

And can we call Tyler Cowen, the blogger, a churner or not?

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