Thursday, December 12, 2013

Has Your Firm's English Expression Deteriorated?

Is your firm guilty of bastardisation of the language of Shakespeare? Does it produce documents with expression that was once called "Chinglish"? I certainly hope not.

For those of you who are much younger than me I'll explain Chinglish; Chinglish occurred in early user manuals and product documentation that came from China a few decades ago. It was obviously written by Chinese people trying to write English. At times, it was frustrating. Other times, it was a laugh as the intended meanings in English took on whole new meanings.

Increasingly, I see articles online and in hard copy media with very poor English expression. Most notable are those words for which one spelling is both singular and plural eg, accommodation, training, or perhaps the addition of an "s" to an already plural word like media (singular is medium, but usage of the singular is fading).

This deterioration is most likely brought about by the larger number of people who now speak English as a second or other language. I'll be honest when I say I do not disrespect or denigrate those people, I admire their efforts. I do make the point, however, that if an organisation operates in a specific geographical location, it should make an effort to demonstrate good grammar, spelling etc, in whatever is the regional language.

It's true that language changes, but using "knowledges", "trainings" and "softwares" as plural for the already singular and plural words is bastardisation, pure and simple.

I have two views of this bastardisation:

  1. The purpose of communication is to transfer meaning from one person to another. Thus, if someone transfers the meaning intended and bastardises any language in the process, does it matter?
  2. Poor language may be okay in social or personal settings, but it is totally unacceptable at a business level
What does this mean?

For businesses, it means that you need to go the extra mile to use the language you are using properly and professionally, otherwise it reflects poorly on your business. If you have your ESL IT person create a user guide for the latest, greatest software program you have, spend a few more bucks and get a professional proofreader and copy-editor to make sure the content is faultless.

What do you think? Does your firm produce second-rate written media?


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