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Another pet peeve. Nounifying the word "ask"

Another pet peeve. Nounifying the word "ask"

  • Comments 63

Sorry about not blogging, my days are filled with meetings trying to finish up our LH beta2 features - I can't wait until people see this stuff, it's that cool.

But because I'm in meetings back-to-back (my calender looks like a PM's these days), I get subjected to a bunch of stuff that I just hate.

In particular, one "meme" that seems to have taken off here at Microsoft is nounifying the word "ask".

I can't tell how many times I've been in a meeting and had someone say: "So what are your teams asks for this feature?" or "Our only ask is that we have the source process ID added to this message".

For the life of me, I can't see where this came from, but it seems like everyone's using it.

What's wrong with the word "request"?  It's a perfectly good noun and it means the exact same thing that a nounified "ask" means.


  • Ouch.

    I've never been exposed to that, but I can certainly see why that'd be annoying.

    It seems somewhat unstoppable, the overgrown "nounification" :) of words.

    I'm not sure how I'd respond to that type of impaired usage of the language, but I suspect that a simple, "Pardon Me?" along with "I don't understand the use of the word 'ask' in that context--Could you clarify what specifically you are saying?" ... A couple of those type responses, and "new word geeks" could get the message.

  • Larry,

    On a related note, do you know why a lot of MS employees like to start their sentences with "So"?

    I have observed this in the Channel 9 videos, TechEd and PDC.

  • Actually what I hate even more are people that pronounce 'ask' as 'axe'. Whenever I hear "I axed you a question..." in a movie or TV show, I want to scream out loud "It's ASKED! Not AXED!" Of course I wouldn't say it that politely either...
  • "What's wrong with the word "request"? It's a perfectly good noun and it means the exact same thing that a nounified "ask" means."

    Ah, but 'ask' is one less syllable to cope with :-)
  • Of course making verbifying nouns has also excessificated. As Calvin one said, "Verbing wierds language."
  • An ask is informal and can easily be dismissed or denied. A request is formal and must be denied formally. At least that is how I would look at it from how you describe.
  • I understand the reaction to neologisms... sometimes it feels like an in-group/out-group marker....

    Maybe the term we're seeking is "nominalization"?

  • Gawd I hate that. Whenever I hear someone (who's not a MS person, of course) use that, I put on a puzzled look and say something like, "the what... sorry, it sounded like you said 'the ass'". That brings the response "no, the assskkk", to which I can say "oh, you mean the request, ok".
    Yeah, so it's a bit passive-aggressive. I don't care. ;)
  • Hadn't Wall Street nounified 'ask' long before anybody at Microsoft got around to it?
  • ha! I ranted about this one a while ago too. Glad to see I'm not the only one that it irks.

  • I see what Brian is saying, I don't agree; if the difference was ask vs. require, I would. "Require" has a very different meaning, but 'request' and 'ask' appear to be interchangable, and neither should be used as a noun.

  • That does sound annoying. Toss it in the bin with "offline", "double-click", and the rest of them.
  • Actually, the "So"-thing may be a Northwest-thing. I grew up within driving distance of Seattle, and I've noticed we have some peculiarities, language-wise.

    I didn't start noticing until my HS English teacher begged me long ago not to append an "s" to "anyway".

    Well, there was also the strange absense of "r" in "Washington", and the way people from .. elsewhere .. pronounced "Oregon" as if they were trying to say "Oregano".

    I'm still trying to figure out how "espresso" keeps getting written and pronounced as "expresso": there's nothing fast about it.
  • express, v., squeeze out (juice, air; from, out of).

    Unless I'm mistaken, that's essentially the same word as the root of the Italian "espresso", and so it's a perfectly sensible anglicization to follow the root over and get "expresso". It doesn't have anything to do with "fast".
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