Don’t do it! Don’t get caught up in the “ask movement”! How many of you have heard someone say, “What is the ask?” in the last couple of years? Well, I have had it up to my ears and have to speak out. “Ask” is not a noun!
Why do people do it? Why do people continue emasculating the language with made up words or made up uses? Well, there are three pieces of advice I would give any of you that must deal with the world of corporate jargon:
- Stop trying to be cute! – Most individuals desire to be and feel modern… to be with all the new thoughts, approaches, and terminology. To do so, some feel it necessary to create new ways to say the same things we’ve been saying for decades. Converting the word “ask” from a verb to a noun simply is not that cute. Is it too hard to use two syllables (as in “request”) or must we conserve our breath and use only one syllable? I think most individuals, especially employees involved in actually doing the work day-by-day, appreciate openness and honesty more than cute derivations of perfectly good words like “request.”
- Stop dumbing things down! – These same people that say we need to simplify things will turn right around and say to shareholders something like, “…by retaining a nominal level of fungibility, we sustain the durability of our assets…” Are you kidding me? Straight talk always promotes credibility and trustworthiness. Manipulating our language in such a way appears to be an attempt to hide the truth or mask reality or spin bad news. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
- Stop perpetuating the preposterous! – Those that feel the same way I do about such abuses of our language need to take a stand and stop doing it! I remember a time when someone used “ask” in front of me as a noun. I looked at that individual and said, “Do you mean ‘request’? I’m not sure I know what you mean using ‘ask’ that way.” That seemed to stop the nonsense, at least for a time.
That’s it for today. I am merely urging all of us to speak clearly, speak the truth, and remember that ‘form’ only beats ‘content’ when you have no value to add otherwise.
Have a great day!