I’m not an expert on the English language. Sure I’ve been speaking it for the last 36 years but I’m still not 100% on the difference between a simile and a metaphor. I’m sure the grammar police would also have a field day with my use of apostrophe’s 😉
I think I’m fairly well educated, articulate and well read (I’ve read some of the classics as a result of my voiceover work) but I certainly don’t consider myself to be an authority on the English language. However there are a couple of recent introductions into both spoken and written English that really get my goat.
- People who start a sentence and then never finish it leaving it hanging there as some kind of unanswered question. “Do you want me to do that for you or…..“. Is that a question? If so please complete it. Whilst I believe that what you’re trying to say is “Do you want me to do that for you or not?“, what you could be meaning is “Do you want me to do that for you or would you rather boil your own testicles in a vat of cooking oil?“. A sentence should have a clear beginning and a clear end.
- The phrase “yes…no“. Increasingly used by people of all ages and walks of life in the UK. People begin answering a question by saying “yes…no” or “no…yes“. Which is it? Is it an affirmative or a negative?
- Overuse of the word “like“. I blame the Americans for this. I’ve seen enough of those MTV style programmes with Paris Hilton to know that this is some sort of Californianism. It’s bad enough saying it but what I’ve noticed recently is the number of people who are now typing it. There is no excuse for this! Verbal laziness is one thing. Transferring it to your online conversation where you have an opportunity to take more time over your words is inexcusable. I took issue with this on a forum the other day. A guy typed “I was, like, whoah!“. I replied by saying “When you say you were like whoah, do you mean that you were actually waagh? That’s similar to whoah“. He didn’t get it.
Writing for the web is different to writing a letter or something which is to appear in print. I accept that and adopt a similar style on a lot of my sites. Blogs, for example, tend to be written in a more conversational style than copy for a marketing website. However the use of lazy conversational phrases in web copywriting is taking it too far, in my opinion. Don’t dumb down to your audience.
If you need advice on how to write for the web you could do a lot worse than visiting Successful Blog which is written by Liz Strauss. There are hundreds of tips on how to write good, clear, concise copy without losing the personal touch which is oh-so important in writing for the web.
I just wonder what language we’ll be speaking in a hundred years time. Chat rooms and text messages have meant that kids on the streets now think it is acceptable to use phrases like gr8 or lol in day to day conversation and written communication. The English language is a beautiful one and it’s being reduced to a series of abbreviations and monosyllabic grunts. We’ll be dragging our wives by their hair back to our cave before we know it.
Now there’s a thought. Like.