Nouniness AND verbiness LO24144

From: Eric Hatch (
Date: 03/09/00

Replying to LO24120 --

Here we go!

I believe that the "nouniness" of English limits our ability to think in
terms of relationships and connections. Bulletized lists, for instance,
are nothing more than strings of nouns, devoid of connections and
relationship. Engineers love nouns because they are THINGS and
comprehensible, as opposed to verbs which are ACTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS
and hence much harder to grasp, or at least more threatening.

When I teach writing skills, I tell folks that the biggest single
improvement they can make is find an active, lively verb to carry the
weight of the sentence, instead of a noun. Hence, "the group met"
instead of "the group held a meeting." This one change can completely
reorient the writer AND the reader in very positive ways.. and that's the
connection between fine points of usage and Learning Organizations. Style
and substance are always related!

The downside risk is that since English permits easy conversion of nouns
to verbs, you can get some really ugly ones. I once wrote an essay called
"Decontemporizing English," which poked fun at some of the more barbarous
verbs in use where I worked. A letter came in from a reader accusing me
of falling victim to the very sin the essay condemned. The gift of irony
was lost on this reader. (If any of you wants a copy of the essay, I can
probably find one, at least in hard copy).

I promise to leave this soapbox, at least for now!
Eric Hatch, President
Hatch Organizational Consulting, Inc.
"Enabling Positive Change"

You can call us at 1 800 586 1487 or 513 683 2265
You can write us at

6812 Stagge Rd
Loveland, OH 45140

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Eric Hatch <>

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