Did You Know?
There is a rather grim irony to the fact that many business professionals today who are, literally, at the top of their game, are also those who were the recipients of educational experiments in language instruction during their academic years. During the late sixties and seventies English teachers were forbidden from offering any instruction in formal grammar. Even simple rules regarding the use of punctuation were shunned by theorists and policy makers in favour of the unproved notion that conventions like these were acquired through random exposure rather than through direct instruction. It hardly comes as a surprise that many business professionals whose first language is actually English, find it difficult to communicate with language that is concise and correct.
Cruel Twist of Fate
Later when this experimental phase proved to be false, formal English instruction was reintroduced, however, for those who were in grades three through eight in the years between 1966 and 1984, it’s too late. Here, now in 2013, it has once again become important to communicate with clarity and brevity. This return of the pendulum of predictable change has made life more difficult, particularly for those in the rather large group to which we refer.
The New Economy and “The New English”
“The New English”, brief, concise, accurate and very definitely time sensitive, is driven by the new economy which is itself driven by digital communications. It’s no secret that we have never had more to process in less time than we have here and now. Grammar texts from high school may be things of the past, but that is primarily because communicators have, through consistent and repetitive use, internalized the essential principles of the “The New English”. Now, poor English is instantly recognizable even if the reader no longer remembers the reasons why a particular piece is badly written.
Bad Grammar = Poor Judgment
We are always making judgments – of situations, of opportunities, of others. This concept certainly applies to language communication. We cannot help but form opinions about the author of a piece, particularly if that piece is poorly expressed. That judgment naturally extends to the service or the product the article was intended to promote. This is why some who advertise for resumes to fill job vacancies feel that the cover letter for a resume says as much about the candidate’s employability as the resume itself.
Good Grammar and Its Implications for Your Business
Why then need we be concerned that we express ourselves properly when we communicate with others in an effort to have them place their faith in us?
Although a poorly written promotional piece may not jeopardize the perceived quality of the advertised product or service, it may very well affect the perception of something far more fundamental: the intelligence of the writer, and therefore, the company.
There is no denying that here in the twenty-first century, English is undergoing one of its many transformations. Today, we call for conciseness and directness; for less words and greater engagement. Secure the attention of your target market in seconds or fail to secure it at all.
The grammar of Dickens and Shakespeare may matter little in today’s fast paced world but good concise writing that is grammatically accurate will always carry weight.