I work in a corporate environment that abuses English with the best of them. I strive to keep my own language as straightforward and simple as possible, while still making myself understood among my colleagues. It’s a sad truth that some people simply cannot digest an idea until it has been slathered with a certain amount of obfuscation. Apparently, this works like ribs and barbecue sauce.
So it should come as no surprise that I am not a fan of the biz-speak habit of nouning verbs and verbing nouns. Awkward nouns have been made out of perfectly serviceable verbs like, “ask”, “edit” and “spend”. Meanwhile, “friend”, “checkpoint”, “status” and the execrable “action” are all now verbs. The last would be delightful as a verb if its fourth letter were replaced with a space. But that makes for a pronouncement far too direct for it to sound like one’s $68,000 MBA was money well-spent.
“What is the ask?” grates on my ear. It means, “what are you asking for” but it also starts the process of allowing the requester not to have to take responsibility for the request. What “I ask for” is firmly linked back to me. “The ask” just sits there, a product of spontaneous generation. Perhaps someone will pick it up and do something about it. Perhaps not.