Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Nouning: it's the new "to verb"

etting to attend lots of Microsoft events means getting a regular peek into the way English is evolving in Redmond. Sometimes, I hear distinctive words or phrases -- for instance, at the Worldwide Partner Conference this year, I realized that "at the end of the day" (which I thought had been drifting into the sunset of business clichés in America) is still alive and well with the Redmondians. On another visit to Microsoft HQ, a friend said "I bet you a hundred dollars that in your next meeting someone uses the word scenario." Luckily for me, I didn't take the bet.

The newest up-and-comer for annoying Redmond verbal ticks is "nouning" verbs. Don't confuse this with the "verbing" that had been going on for the last decade or so ("solution a problem," "access an account," "network the office"). No, this is the reverse. I was in a meeting recently where we were discussing "yearly spend" and were told "this is my ask."

I guess, at the end of the day, I'd rather hear a tired cliché than blatant misuse of a part-of-speech.

[Note: And, with that, I'll return to your regularly scheduled program--distributed computing]
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