In my last post, “Words Matter”, I discussed the impact of words on nature, physically, and on humans, emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Since that post, I was reminded again that words matter to communicate clearly:
- Be careful to limit or eliminate the use of acronyms and jargon
- Avoid using made-up words
- Let’s not soften the language to the point of confusion
- And… my favourite…, let’s not bastardize the English language
In writing courses I’ve taken, the rule of thumb has been to write simply, using one or two syllable words to make your point, and to write at a level (grade 5 or 6) that is easy to understand.
Acronyms and Jargon
Lately, I’ve seen more jargon and acronyms in newspaper articles than before. Newspapers are the perfect example of writing to a level that should be understood by most of the population. So, why is it that I can’t figure out what is being said, especially when they have editors to catch the jargon and acronyms (and either eliminate them or clarify them) to make the article easier to follow?
Do you use or overuse acronyms-DM, WFM, IDK, IMO, HTH…? Don’t assume people know what you are talking about, tell them what it stands for, so that they can follow the conversation.
What about made-up words or jargon? What the heck is “on fleek”?
We need to remember that we are communicating to a variety of generations and what we think is a popular reference, may not be known to everyone. Use clear and simple language.
Softening the Language
The English language has changed and is confusing at times. We’ve tried to soften the language (so that it isn’t harsh) and haven’t made it any clearer. For example, instead of saying “I like that”, we say, “I don’t hate it.” What are you trying to say, does that mean you like it, or you don’t?
Don’t Bastardize the Language
I had a conversation with someone who overpaid for a product. This person was really upset and said that they were “raped and pillaged” by the company they purchased the product from. To me, it sterilized the meaning of rape. To compare a purchase (where choice is involved and you don’t have to buy the product from the company) to where there is violence, no control, no choice, and a violation, was a gross misuse of language. It also diminished the impact of what has happened with wars, where cities ,towns, and villages were pillaged and women were raped by soldiers. After my initial shock, we spent some time discussing the differences between the two examples, and agreed that the words were misused.
Can we get back to clear communication?
We’ve all been guilty at some point of using the language to make us sound cool (or whatever the jargon is now), smart, angry, soothing, etc. In the process, we have lost or desensitized the true meaning of what we want to convey. We no longer speak or write simply and clearly.
Is it a wonder that miscommunication happens so often?
BFN, TNT, HYLI, APS
Bye for now, till next time, hope you liked it, and please share!
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash