I find it funny when people just have a “thing”. You know, they can’t have their food touching on their plate, or they can’t leave the house if the bed isn’t made or just some quirky thing like that. It seems I am that way with language.
My previous post was about the plural of persona. This one is about using words that don’t exist in the English language.
I’m not a language scholar, and I’m sure that there will be people that argue the case that English is a dynamic growing language and words like fax ad blog are now part of our everyday language. That is fine, those are physical (or digital) inventions like television or internet. My issue today is with turning a noun into a verb by just tacking on “ize” at the end. Today’s vitriol is reserved for “Incentivize”.
Here’s how this came up. I’m reading Simon Sinek’s book “Leaders Eat Last”, which is really very good. He has a fine command of the language and paints pictures in my head that I don’t see when I read other business-oriented books. My issue is his frequent use of “incentivize”. Every time I come across it, it just sticks out like a sore thumb! Now, he is not alone. I hear this word in the sales and marketing world multiple times a day. It is like a verbal paper cut each time I hear it.
The word is incentive. You give someone an incentive to do something. You do not “incentivize”.
Now while Merriam-Webster online says that it is a word. I personally feel it’s one of those invented words that has just sort of stuck. In my opinion, it sounds like the person is trying to sound like they are trying to use “big words” when small words work better. I’m sure I will write another post on small words vs big words, but that is for another time. (Don’t get me going on utilize vs. use!)
The absolute worst is when people take “verbed” (see, I did it myself) nouns and then turn them back into nouns. I have actually heard someone use the word “Incentivization”. Seriously? That’s like saying you have a glass of meltified ice cubes instead of a glass of water.