Friday, April 04, 2014

Never use a verb when a noun will do.

I'm not quite sure when it happened, but it did. Some simple, beautiful verbs became nominalized in everyday conversation. I caught myself last year using the most egregious nominilization of all — "solve."


Who started this?   I'm not sure.  But I'm on a one-woman crusade to end it. The word is solution. And it's perfectly agreeable. "I have a solution." It even sounds nice. It gives someone hope. "Hooray! There's a solution and she has it!" It flows from your mouth, rolls of your tongue and fills the air with beautiful, poetic sound.  Go on - try it: SOLUTION.

So from here on out I simply cannot let someone ask "What's the solve?" in a meeting without interceding.  But I need your help.

Nothing less than the fate of human language and understanding is at stake here, friends. If we start nominalizing words like "solve" where does it end?

Let me be clear, I'm not against nominilization itself.  As a writer I make frequent use of words like conclusion, analysis, demonstration.  But I'm pretty sure we agreed long ago that those were useful.  But "solve?"

It doesn't even roll off your tongue properly.  It's clunky.  It's ugly.  And it sounds like you stopped in the middle of a thought.  

So please, I beg of you.  Help me stop this ugly and ridiculous trend.  Stop using "solve" when the word is "solution." And stop letting it go unchallenged in meeting rooms and everyday polite conversation.  We can do this.  Are you up for it?  I hope so.  I'm counting on you.  After all,  it isn't that big of an ask.