Professional Language, Please

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My dad used to say “foxy” and people my age say “hot.”

Most of the world says “awesome“ and students at my high school say “peaking.”

People from NorCal say “hella” and people from Texas say “ya’ll.”

Language doesn’t stay the same forever. It changes, switches, molds and transforms. It changes by city, state, country, age group and generation.

The Edmonton Times has a great article about why language transforms and where the new words of today come from.

Language is everything, but it certainly isn’t always.

Although new words are born just about as quickly as it takes to integrate the new (now old) words into our language, one thing stays the same: professional writing is professional writing.

We speak with weak verbs (any form of the verb “to be”) and our text messages are inundated with abbreviations such as “lol” and “jk,” but professional writing has not changed in the slightest.

While it’s appropriate to send a text to your mom that says “lol ok be there soon!” it is completely unacceptable to give your boss that same answer in response to his email asking where your news release is that was due 20 minutes ago. Your boss doesn’t care that “omg you totes forgot to put it on his desk!”

I continue to hear many professionals complain that office relations are becoming much too casual and personal. I think that as aspiring PR professionals it is important to remember the value in professional language, especially when we are starting out in entry-level positions.

And yes, professional language includes proper grammar. Grammar is a weak subject for many, yet it is one of the biggest markers of intelligence in writing. As a PR student, I stress over commas and verb tenses on a daily basis. In my PR Strategic Communication class, any assignment will be automatically lowered to a C (before any other grading occurs) if we make ONE basic editing error.

This rule makes assignment submission a stressful activity, but the rubric is in place for two reasons: to force us to learn correct grammar and to emphasize the importance of grammar in a professional setting.

When we connect with other professionals, words on a screen are usually the first chance we have to make an impression of ourselves whether it is via LinkedIn, email or anything in between. Although the spoken language in our social sphere is shifting, it is essential to exercise our professional language skills when communicating in a professional setting.

Photo by: COM Phoenix Web Image Repository via Flickr


2 thoughts on “Professional Language, Please

  1. Kelly, I like that you chose to write about a topic that is always applicable! Professional writing, while it has a time and place, is very important. I am always surprised when someone sends a mass email for a class and there are fragments and abbreviations. Thank you for the reminder to stay classy

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