Letter: Since you asked ...

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The Independent Culture
Sir: William Hartston's concern about "ask" as a noun ("Words", 24 August) is misplaced.

In programming, an ask is a single act of putting a question. The programmer cannot and should not know the nature of the question put by the program- user. The word is used in the same manner as the nouns "call" and "put". These last two the argot of programmers is shared with that of market- makers. I am sure I recall, from my days in market trading, that "ask" was also used as a noun, although none of my dictionaries records this fact.

This development, if it is one, should be welcomed for adding precision and eliminating ambiguity. The nouns "ask", "question" and "questioning" each have different meanings both in singular and plural forms.


Tunbridge Wells, Kent