There’s a certain stage in life, and it happens to all of us eventually, where the policemen start to look young and you tut about someone’s daughter wearing an inappropriate outfit.
There’s another indication and you could call it ‘grammar-rage’. Tolerance levels drop and you find yourself running up to blackboard menus rubbing out rogue apostrophes or shouting out of your car window at those signs intended to be read by people sat at traffic lights.
Now that the minutiae of our lives is comprehensively logged on various social networks, lack of a grasp of the basics has become even more apparent. This has led to several ‘rage’ groups being set up, a favourite being Facebook’s ’I judge you when you use poor grammar‘ which has 450,000 members at the last count.
Also visit http://theoatmeal.com for loads of handy tips – some grammatical, some just quirky – and even posters that you can print off and hang helpfully in the office, thereby using your rage in a constructive way…although you may have things thrown at your head.
Another one of those unnecessary phrases that clog up so much corporate writing before you’ve even noticed – ‘detailed planning’.
Do you really need to specify the planning was detailed? After all, isn’t the whole point of planning is that it’s detailed? Would you ever say ‘undetailed’ or ‘vague planning’? Probably not. So why not just drop the ‘detailed’ and stick to straightforward planning – and reduce your word count by 50% immediately!
In the past 20 years or so, the eldest of our population, the over 85s, has more than doubled to over 1.3m. An age group growing in importance, and yet it would seem not in stature. Ever caught yourself talking really slowly to your elderly neighbour?
Research from Kansas University found that belittling language is harmful to the mental and physical health of older people. But, we’re just trying to be nice right? Truth is we often resort to parental language as if talking to a child; ‘aren’t you a good girl?’ and ‘did you eat all your dinner dear?’
It may be tempting to over-simplify what you want to say, but remember just like you and me, most elderly people feel much younger on the inside. Major life changes like moving into care can often affect self-perception. As communicators we need to remember to show respect where it’s due…ok dear?
Now brevity is a beautiful thing, but an increasingly used shortcut is becoming so ubiquitous it can no longer escape a little musing…
‘Grey is the new Black’. Once a serious phrase used in the fashion world is now a catch-all cliche, and very handy for any journalist wanting to illustrate a point about change.
‘x is the new black’ has become shorthand for the passing fancies of what is now popular (or good) at the expense of what used to be popular, which is now so, like, yesterday. For example some serious headlines, ‘Voluptuous is the new black’, ‘SMS is the new black’, ‘green is the new black’.
It permeates our culture like textspeak…everything has a shorthand, and it doesn’t even have to be anything to do with black:
Films - Ocean’s Twelve strapline: ‘Twelve is the new eleven
Food - (one particularly close to our heart): ‘Macaroons are the new cupcake’
Drink – (again, just us maybe…): ‘Tea is the new coffee’
Age - 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30…so we’re all now 10 years younger than we say we are!
It’s now getting a bit ridiculous: ‘Big is the new small’, ‘Busy is the new idle’, ‘Quiet is the new Loud’ or, a particularly pertinent one, ‘Short is the new long’. So on that note, we’ll stop rambling.