In the 1980s and 1990s it was popularly forecast that all communication in the 21st-century would-be digital, and the so-called “paperless office” was also apparently on the near horizon.
Now that we’ve arrived in the 21st-century, we can see that the elimination of paper for communication is still a long way off. Without wanting to discuss the relative merits (or otherwise) of email over “snail” mail, it is clear that written communication is still very relevant and ever present.
Indeed, it’s impossible to get through a day – even when you’re on holiday – without having to resort to the written word in some form or another.
“Text Speak” has evolved in a very short period of time into a method of communication that is already accruing entries in the ubiquitous Oxford English Dictionary. This is something that was completely unforeseeable even 10 years ago. The speed of change – largely due to the speed of technical innovation – is breathtaking.
Equally as breathtaking is the speed with which “standard” English usage is becoming more and more difficult to find. For whatever reason (the state of education in the UK being at the forefront – this is neither the time nor the platform for this discussion), there is a burgeoning credibility crisis looming amongst school age to university age students. And beyond as time marches inexorably on.
Speak to employers, college and university educators, and they will all tell you that traditional spelling and grammar skills are in rapid decline.
If you are in a position of needing to write a letter of application for a new job, compile reports as part of your employment, or just need to engage in formal written communication of any kind, this affects you. Your written tutor marked assignments are another good example.
Poor grammar and spelling are one of the ‘pet’ frustrations for senior managers and educators everywhere. If you can write succinctly and convincingly without glaring spelling mistakes, without using “text speak”, or without writing 125 word unpunctuated sentences, you stand out like a sore thumb today. In a good way. You come across as much more credible than your seemingly illiterate colleagues.
The slightly worrying thing is that even if you can’t spell or punctuate well, you can still compose decent written communications. There are tools readily available to spare your embarrassment.
Everybody uses a word processor these days (Word or its open source equivalent being the most popular), and they have spelling and grammar checkers built-in as part of the user interface. So there’s absolutely no excuse (other than laziness or a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude) for sending poorly written emails, letters, reports, assignments or notes anywhere. Even most email programmes and smart phone interfaces have them.
So don’t do it. Check your grammar and spelling before sending. Or risk appearing stupid, lazy, or both.
On a lighter note, here’s an amusing article about just this subject:
“Ode to the Spell Checker”
Eye halve a spelling chequer
It came with my pea sea
It plainly marques four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
Eye strike a key and type a word
And weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write
It shows me strait a weigh
As soon as a mist ache is maid
It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite
Its rare lea ever wrong.
Eye have run this poem threw it
I am shore your pleased two no
Its letter perfect awl the weigh
My chequer tolled me sew