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Honest Question

Of all my language-related pet peeves—and there are a lot of them, including the term pet peeve—it’s the verbs-as-nouns shift that really rubs my rhubarb. You know, when someone says something like “Here are my selects from the photo shoot” or “Did you get the invite to the party?” or “That’s a pretty big ask.”

Since there already exist noun forms of these verbs—selection, invitation, and request, respectively—my honest question is…Why? Why create a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist?

The way I see it, there are four possibilities.

A. ignorance
B. laziness
C. a propensity for following the herd
D. an assumption that treating English like your bitch makes you hip

I think most adults know better, which rules out ignorance. Laziness doesn’t track either, since you’re not going to save any effort by deleting a single syllable. I think it’s probably a combination of (D) followed by (C): Someone, somewhere, thinks it’ll be cool to shake things up, and before you know it, everyone’s doing it.

Which raises another—and far more interesting—question: What words in current usage have, over the last three or four hundred years, gone through a similar evolution?



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