[Ads-l] "Big ask"

Ben Yagoda byagoda at UDEL.EDU
Sat Jan 5 10:10:39 EST 2019


Google Books has what I read as a legitimate (and non-sporting) use of “big ask” from what appears to be a short story in the Australian journal The Bulletin, vol. 97, 1975. It’s a snippet view: "A big ask, though. They wanted a grand. Anyway I got two spot bail and the case is still swingin’."
 
https://books.google.com/books?id=pNQXAQAAIAAJ&q=%22a+big+ask%22&dq=%22a+big+ask%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiexve_8NbfAhUDT6wKHXEaD2EQ6AEwA3oECAIQAg

Ben

notoneoffbritishisms.com


> 
> 
> Date:    Fri, 4 Jan 2019 20:51:51 -0500
> From:    ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject: Re: "my first ask"
> 
> A language columnist in “The Sydney Morning Herald” discussed the
> phrase “a big ask” in 1986. The phrase was enclosed in quotation marks
> suggesting that its use may have been unfamiliar to some readers.
> 
> Date: April 15, 1986
> Newspaper: The Sydney Morning Herald
> Newspaper Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
> Article: Words: Language just keeps rolling along
> Author; Alan Peterson
> Quote Page 10
> Database: Newspapers.com
> 
> https://www.newspapers.com/clip/26861863/the_sydney_morning_herald/
> 
> [Begin excerpt]
> On the last day of the Sheffield Shield cricket final a Herald
> journalist heard a radio commentator refer to NSWs need of so many
> runs on a deteriorating wicket as "a big ask".
> 
> It was a great leap backwards. The earliest recorded use of ask as a
> noun occurred about 1000. A 1230 reference was "He failed of his
> as[k]." The usage is, of course, obsolete, but request and demand are
> still both nouns and verbs in good standing.
> [End excerpt]
> 
> The OED has an entry for “ask” as a noun with a long history.
> 
> Further below is “big ask”, the Australian slang version. OED gives a
> 1987 citation, so the 1986 Australian citation above is slightly
> earlier.
> 
> [Begin excerpt]
> ask, n.1
> 2. A thing asked for; a request, a demand. Somewhat rare except in
> uses at sense 3.
> 
> c1275  (▸?a1200)    Laȝamon Brut (Calig.) (1963) l. 529   Eouer axe
> ich eow leue.
> 
> a1350   St. Juliana (Ashm.) (1957) 81   Þis Justice..wende hire habbe
> as is spouse, ac he failede of is as [rhyme was].
> 
> 1656   N. Hardy First Epist. John: 1st Pt. (ii. 1) xx. 357   God saith
> concerning Christ, thou art my Son, there presently followeth an Ask
> of me and I will give thee.
> 
> 1781   T. Twining Let. 8 Dec. in Recreat. & Stud. (1882) 108   I
> am not so unreasonable as to desire you to..answer all my asks.
> [End excerpt]
> 
> [Begin excerpt]
> ask, n.1
> c. colloq. (orig. Austral.). With modifying word or phrase of size, as
> a big (also huge, etc.) ask. Something which is a lot to ask of
> someone; something difficult to achieve or surmount. Cf. tall order at
> tall adj. 8d.
> 
> In early use chiefly in Sport.
> 
> 1987   Sydney Morning Herald 7 May 40/2   Four measly pounds is what
> the critics say. But according to his trainer..that four pounds is ‘a
> big ask’.
> 
> 1994   J. Birmingham He died with Felafel in his Hand (1997) viii. 177
>  I'd..get him to wear the underpants consistently for six weeks on
> the road. (This was not a big ask given Milo's unwashed jeans-wearing
> record at King Street.)
> [End excerpt]
> 
> On Fri, Jan 4, 2019 at 8:02 PM Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
>> 
>> A quick search of the text string "that's a big ask" on newspapers.com
>> shows hits as early as 1988.  But every single hit from 1988 through
>> 2006 is either from an Australian newspaper, or quotes a native
>> Australian, typically athletes.  Several examples of high-profile
>> Australian tennis players and golfers being quoted in US newspapers -
>> perhaps that's how it seeped into the language here.  The earliest
>> non-Canadian result was from Canada in 2006.  The earliest US result
>> that is apparently not from a native Australian speaker is only from
>> 2010.
>> 
> 
> ------------------------------------------------------------


------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list