I was once at an interview where one of the other candidates stated that not only emails but also texts should always be properly written and grammatically correct. I was furious I had not thought to say this myself, as I wholeheartedly agreed. And it gave just the right impression of attention to detail (although obviously completely OCD).
You may know that anyone can read a piece of text in which every word is a jumble of its letters, as the brain reads words whole rather than individual characters. However, a piece of text that uses abbreviations/slang words/references, shortened or combined words is not at all easy to read.
In a world where most people type, quick ways to shorten words when writing are beginning to dominate – tickets referred to as tix; effects to fx and communication to comms. When spoken, these words are instantly understood, a verbal shorthand used with wry humour and soon becoming accepted.
Of course, you could dismiss text-speak, or e speak, or marketing-speak as simple slang, informal words used in speech alone. But to be understood slang needs a common reference point or experience; which is why is does not translate so easily when it crosses over to the written word – for example onto websites. Nowadays websites are created by those who have grown up with a stream of television and film language of all kinds; where there are so many memorable quotations and phrases – so much more than when Brewer started his anthology. But they lose power if the reader does not understand the reference, and become redundant.
For example, the comedienne Miranda Hart and her writers revel in shortening and combining words into catchphrases that create an easy shorthand – ‘bearwith’ to mean ‘Wait a minute, this mobile call is more important than talking to you’; ‘totes emosh’ to mean ‘I am about to burst into tears’; ‘Bucketful of sozz’ to mean ‘I am sorrier than you can imagine’. Amusing, and instantly recognisable as a characteristic way of speaking to someone who watches the show. But put such references into written text and one of two things happen – a Miranda Hart fan recognises the reference and is mildly amused (or mildly irritated); or the reference is lost, and you lose a reader who does not understand what you are going on about.
So beware of slang and jokey references. Never write as you speak – it works in texts and personal social media accounts, but nowhere else. Business has its own language, and to borrow bits of another is just not very…professional.
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