“Is ‘take a listen' correct usage?” asked Helen Stricklin, of Oklahoma City, as Buck installed new speakers in her car at Curly's Soonerco.
“Even if it is,” she continued, “TV announcers totally overuse it, and it has become a pet peeve of mine.”
Buck's afraid “take a listen” is legitimate usage, Helen. “Listen” is most commonly used as a verb, but the American Heritage Dictionary, Merriam Webster's and the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary all define it also as a noun.
The Cambridge dictionary gives this usage example: “Have a listen to this! I've never heard anything like it before.” None of the dictionaries brands it as “informal,” though in Buck's ear “take a listen” has a somewhat informal ring. On the scale of informality, he places it just a notch above “Listen up!” which the Cambridge dictionary considers informal.
Still, if AHD, Webster's and Cambridge give their imprimaturs to “listen” as a noun, Buck can't fault the TV folks for using it that way. If you can take a break, take a drink and take a look, he reckons you can also take a listen, even though the expression says nothing that “listen” by itself doesn't say.
“Want to listen to this CD of the Swayback Symphony Orchestra's latest concert?” asked Floyd. “Uncle Hadacol is a member of the orchestra.
“I'll take a listen,” said Ms. Clarisse van Beauregard. “What instrument does Uncle Hadacol play?
“He's in the percussion section,” said Floyd. “He plays first washboard.”
“I think I'll listen from out in the back pasture,” said Miss Lulabelle.
Send questions for Buck to Gene Owens, 104 Belspring Lane, Anderson, SC 29621, or email him at BucksEnglish@aol.com. Please let Buck know what town you're from.