Can you spot the slang in this sample excerpt from a business email?
Dear Ms O’Connor,
I am writing to follow up on my interview from last week. First of all, it was awesome to meet you. You are a really cool lady. I believe I would be a pro at all the stuff you mentioned that would be required of me in this job. I am not a workaholic, but I do work hard and take care of business. Haha. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.
Sincerely, M. Ernest Anderson(If you are having difficulty spotting the slang above, do read on!)
*Editor’s note: This is part of a ‘mini-series’ where Neue’s good friend, Davidson, will share tips on how to improve your writing. From all of us here at Neue, we hope these articles will help improve your business writing skills and help you to succeed in your workplace.
In today’s article, we’ll be talking about colloquialism, slang, and jargon, which we may knowingly or unintentionally use in our business documents. First, let’s understand the difference.Colloquialism is the use of informal words, phrases, or even slang in a piece of writing. Colloquialisms are generally understood by most age groups if the speakers are all from the same area or region.
Slang, however, is usually used in specific social groups who have similar backgrounds. For example, most Malaysians in West Malaysia end their sentence with ‘la, or lah’. In Borneo, however, they are more likely to use ‘bah’ instead. In any case, these are considered slang. Colloquialisms may sometimes have slang within them, but this is not always the case.
Similar to slang, jargon is used only by certain groups, and it often refers to words used in a particular profession. Jargon is not slang. It is made of specialised terms from politicians, lawyers, HR professionals, computer programmers, and accountants, and these terms when used, tend to be terms that only those within that industry can usually understand – terms like leverage, onboarding, synergy, hegemony, Boolean, nested, conveyance, balanced scorecard, and intestate are some examples used within these specific professions or industries.
For example, how lawyers speak is so specific to their profession that it is often known as “legalese.” You may often hear them use words like indigent, arbitration, plaintiff, decree, contempt, etc. Many other professions that rely on exchanging complex information also use jargon, such as scientists, doctors, and businesspeople. The use of jargon only works when addressing a specific audience, or most people might have to scramble for a dictionary, and that makes for a tiring reading experience.
Here are some common slang used in the workplace:
Studying all night
Check it out, check this out
Look at, watch, examine
Chocoholic, workaholic, shopaholic
A person who is addicted to chocolate/work/shopping
To laugh uncontrollably
Make a mistake
Things (used as a singular, noncount noun)
Taking care of business
Doing things that need to be done
Bo bananas, or go nuts
Go insane or be very angry
To be sad
Common Internet Slang
Hashtags use the # symbol before the keywords
A direct message – for private communication with someone
Short for “Ask Me Anything”
People who usually post or respond to comments in a way that will annoy or anger most people
Meme (pronounced meem)
A meme is an image, text or video that’s copied and modified over and over again, usually by imitation
A facepalm is a gesture where you put the palm of your hand on your face
When someone fails, usually due to an easily avoided mistake
“Totes” is a shortened version of “totally”
A way to deliver a rude or mean sentence, and make it seem less rude by adding ‘just sayin’ at the end
Someone who is new to something, a beginner
When someone or something appears in a photo unexpectedly, without the photographer meaning to include it
An emoji depicting great sadness, as the letters denote a man kneeling on the floor, showing disappointment
Using colloquialism and slang in your writing is very informal and should be avoided, especially in business writing. When conversing, however, it is usually acceptable, especially when talking to friends or when you in an informal setting.
What are some of the slang that it is unacceptable to use in business writing? Drop me a note or comment on today’s post. I would love to hear all about it. If you have a question or need any advice on writing, we are here to answer them.
Do you need training for your department or organisation? Give yourself an advantage during this work from home period, by learning how to improve your writing. For more information, drop an e-mail to Neue’s Digital Editor, Lance Thoo, at email@example.com .
Stand a chance to win
Stand a chance to win my book – “8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace” – by re-writing the passage below so that it is concise and concrete:
“This sounds like an amazing initiative during these indeterminate times considering the current global pandemic. People do have a preference to have access to information at their own suitability. I would like to share a few thoughts with you which I hope can help bring your projects to fruition. Please look into your diary and revert with your soonest availability to pencil in a discussion”.