Word Inflation, or Unnatural Syntax?
Ted Moses sends this example of word inflation in the work place:
The Deputy requested me to send this letter to all staff.”
I don’t think the problem is that request is too formal for the context. The use of request as a verb meaning “to ask” is common enough in ordinary speech and in the media.
The Government Requested GPS Info From Sprint . .
They requested evidence linking bin Laden to the attacks.
Can a prisoner request anything for his last meal?
However, ask and request don’t always fit the same slots in a sentence. The sentence in the example sounds wrong because the syntax doesn’t work with request.
syntax: the way in which linguistic elements (as words) are put together to form constituents (as phrases or clauses) —Merriam-Webster Unabridged
The verb ask is frequently followed by an indirect object preceding a direct object. Ex.
He asked me my name.
He asked them the time.
He asked us to send the letter.
She asked George what he was doing there.
The verb request, however, is generally followed immediately by a direct object. The object may be a single noun or a clause:
They requested seats near the stage.
She requested silence.
He requested that I send this letter.
The “requested me” usage is growing, but it’s not nearly as frequent as “asked me.” I ran one of my unscientific searches to test the waters: “requested me” got 636,000 hits compared to 46,700,000 for “asked me.”
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