Tell it to me straight

January 9 is Word Nerd Day

To celebrate Word Nerd Day on Janaury 9, 2019 (today) here’s a story from my childhood compared to the new way of writing in the business world today.

As a kid, I read the dictionary. My dad bragged to my teachers about that. He was impressed by people with big vocabularies and loved using big words himself.

So-called word nerds take a different type of interest in words. They are intrigued by the origin, meaning, and usages of words in their language. To them words and trivia about words can be fun.

Word nerds will celebrate their day doing crosswords and playing word games. Good for them. They’ll wonder why we have stationery and stationary. They’ll make a list of all the words you can make with the letters S,T,O,P. I recommend they go to Pinterest and search the term word nerd for some visual fun..

Make your words work

In the business world, we are not playing with words. We are trying to get something done, efficiently and effectively. So straight-talk and every-day words are the best choice. The desired style of modern English is clear, concise and readable.

Customers and clients are not impressed by big words. If not completely turned-off, they are frustrated with jargon and fancy language.

Nowadays the public expects standard English grammar but with vocabulary and tone that is conversational or consultative, like the language they hear on the news or use in the workplace with co-workers.

Nobody wants your jargon either: Don’t use proactive or paradigm shift, and don’t touch base or interface to optimize the impact.

Aristotle advised writers to use words that are current and ordinary, and that advice is still good. Use words that explain rather than mask meaning.

End, stop, or close instead of terminate.
Agree instead of accede to.

In trying to be conversational, don’t also try to be trendy and hip. Not everyone follows trends. Remember slang is an in-language for a certain group of people. Unless that group is your only audience, don’t use slang.