It’s no secret that our language is changing more and more rapidly every day. We saw how quickly and easily words are added to the dictionary in my blog post a few months ago. And shrinking words are the newest trend in linguistics. More often than not, we end up shortening the words we use the most. Abbreviations and acronyms have become so prevalent these days that they are even plastered across the Valentine’s Day candy hearts I’ve grown to know and love. Below is a picture of the all-new candy hearts I saw in stores a few weeks ago.
In addition to the words and phrases on the candy pieces, even the font has changed, becoming more digital and 8-bit looking.
Gone are the days when you see phrases on the candy hearts we all know and love, as in I Love You, or Be Mine. Now, these hearts say I <3 You and LOL, instead. Who wants to give these new ones to their valentine? I sure don’t. I love them for myself, but I don’t want to be looked at like a tween who uses these acronyms to get my point across.
Is this where our language has gone? I don’t mean to get philosophical on you, but what do all of these phrases say about the way we communicate with each other? Words and phrases used to convey our messages of love and hate are now just shortened versions of every combination of letters. Now, we just say LOL and move on. Where’s the romance?
Even marketing materials are less formal these days, as in some items I get in the mail. Invites to buy subscriptions or products used to be sent in letter form, which has now turned to postcards or flyers, which we seem to be getting requests for more and more of here at JP. Even though I don’t mind the occasional flyer, letters seem much more personal to me still, loving even. Like the Christmas letters of old, these have gone out the window for the most part.
Does this mean the art of communication has gone out the window?
With everything getting abbreviated, acronym-ed, and minimized, the English language is doing its best to stay afloat. No longer are the days when big words were used to make you seem smart.
Concise communication in the workplace in memos, e-mails, and the like is an absolute requirement in our industry, and many others. Sending the wrong message, to the wrong client, with LOLs and the word “pls” everywhere is not something you want to happen.
Social networks: to blame or not to blame?
Social networks and texting have perpetuated the ever-abbreviated English language, but I don’t think that social networks are to blame. We have let our own language slip, and that is not anyone’s fault but our own. If people choose to speak the way they write on Facebook, our communication is just going to keep going downhill from here. I love nothing more than seeing succinct communication span across the internet. If you want to be taken seriously out there in the social arena (online), make sure to use correct spelling and proper grammar. In the marketing, social, and writing and editing fields, this is crucial.
Although some might blame social networks and SMS for the decline of the English language, studies have not proven that spoken/written word carries over to work and/or school. The only data studies have returned claim that the younger generations are less professional in their communications at school because of how they speak and type in their daily lives. However, Ryan Lytle of U.S. News writes, “Where some admissions officers have observed a shift in language used in admissions materials, Martha Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest University, says she has not seen the shortcuts that you typically see in social communication.”
Whatever may happen with our lovely language, be sure to use it correctly. If you are using an extensive amount of reduced words and phrases, acronyms, etc., use them in the right place, as in your personal accounts on social networks, rather than in client e-mails or other professional communications. And even if candy hearts have made almost a complete 360° turn, I can still count on ones with phrases like Sweet Talk, and that’s all that matters.
-This was originally posted on JP Enterprises’ website.