Posts tagged ‘Spelling’

Shorten those words! Or just spell them wrong…

Mobile phones started it, online chat continued it, Facebook made it mainstream and Twitter took it to a whole new level. Bashing the English language has become the norm. If you use proper grammar and spell everything out in full nowadays, you’re the weird one!

There’s the common conception that there is a language called “txt speak”. And there is, but not as you know it. Generation Z (are we up to that yet?) use words like ‘lol’ as part of their everyday language… out loud. You’re not up with the play any more if you simply know what OMG stands for. “Txt speak”, if we have to put a label on it, is a continually developing language, and it’s Twitter that is adding the most recent touches to it.

I’m not talking about Twitter’s own language either, that’s another story altogether. In fact, I was recently on http://www.twittonary.com and learnt a few things for myself! Aside from the fact that you can add ‘Tw’ to the start of any word to add Twitter to its definition (I think the most amusing one I found was ‘Twurch’, which means providing sermons and scripture over Twitter), there were numerous new acronyms and a plethora of new words. And the prerequisite for word creation seems to be as simple as celebrities using it. Then if it starts getting RTd (re-tweeted) on a regular basis, it’s a word.

Twitter has also normalised the shortening of words like never before. It did start with txting, but not everyone picked up on it. And saying as much as possible while using as few characters as possible couldn’t be more important than when you’re Twittering – y wld u typ 4 ages whn u cn gt ur msg in 1 line?

If you want to remain fluent in “txt speak”, ensure you know the following so you aren’t lost from the word go:

• ICYMI – in case you missed it

• JSYK – just so you know

• IIRC – if I recall correctly

• IMHO – in my humble opinion

• DYK – did you know

• FTR – for the record

And the same applies to signing off. If someone ends a txt, Facebook or Twitter message with HAND, don’t look puzzled, they’re actually being nice. It means “have a nice day”.

What do you think of txt speak? Have you heard any interesting new words or acronyms lately? What do you think of people using the acronyms as part of everyday spoken conversation?

James

May 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm 6 comments

In principal, the principle is right…

Wondering what’s wrong here? Or do you find this sentence completely acceptable? In case of the latter, you may need some help with your spelling.

Common mistakes

Some common spelling mistakes apart from the ‘principal’ who generally leads a school and hopefully has some ‘principles’, include:

–          accommodation spelled as ‘accomodation’

–          sought after spelled as ‘sort after’

–          stationery as in writing utensils spelled as ‘stationary’ as in not moving

–          their as in their house, i.e. the house they own, spelled as either ’they’re’ meaning they are or ‘there’ as in there’s a good boy

Why is this important for me?

In the age of social media, open resources and open communication, it is important to be professional. Spelling mistakes certainly undermine this image. Spelling and grammar mistakes are also still one of the most common pitfalls in CVs.

Where can I get help?

There are plenty of resources on the web that can help, for example you can check the 100 most often mispelled misspelled words in English or view an extensive list of commonly misspelled words on good old Wikipedia.

The safer and more professional option, however, is to use a local provider of proofreading and editing services.

March 24, 2010 at 7:08 am Leave a comment

Honing your editing skills

I went to a TCANZ workshop called “Honing your editing skills” at the end of last month and wanted to share some of the stuff I learnt.

The instructor

The instructor, Howard Warner, is an experienced editor and plain English enthusiast from Auckland. He is the founder and director of Plain English People.

Types of editing

I found that the most valuable thing I learnt was to define the “discrete stages” that make up the editing process which are:

  • Structural editing
  • Sentence level editing
  • Proofreading

Structural editing

Make sure the necessary sections are there, ordered correctly and weighted appropriately; and that text is divided up into manageable, readable chunks.

Sentence level editing

Check for “a light texture”, consistency, clarity, and accuracy. Ensure short sentences, active voice, common words, etc.

Proofreading

Ensure correct, consistent punctuation; correct spelling, capital letters, consistent terminology, consistent formatting.

Editing & Information Mapping

A properly Information-Mapped document won’t need structural editing. It also helps with some parts of copy editing and formatting, though I think these are still quite separate and still need to be done.

March 11, 2010 at 5:40 am Leave a comment

Documents that (don’t) work

Have you ever come across a document that didn’t work for you? I bet you have. Just last week, I encountered a small yet relevant example myself.

The document…

I was delivered a parcel and because I wasn’t home, the courier service left me a card detailing what to do to arrange for a re-delivery or pick-up. I had the choice of having the parcel re-delivered to the same address, to a different address or picking it up myself. The card also provided additional instructions; it told me how soon items could be re-delivered and that I needed to present an ID when I wanted my item re-delivered to a different address. So far, so good.

worked for me…

I decided to pick up my parcel. The card provided the pick-up location and opening hours which was great. Of course, the pick-up location for couriers often happens to be a bit further out of town. I have a car, so I’m lucky. I got there, parked my car close-by (plenty of parking available) and made my way to the counter where I was greeted not only by a friendly member of staff but also by a sign stating that an ID must be presented to collect the item.

but wouldn’t have worked for Bob…

I said I was lucky. All I had to do is march back to my car and get my driver licence. However, I could have been an elderly person without a car and no driver licence. Let’s call him Bob. Since the card did not tell Bob to bring along an ID to pick up his parcel, I doubt that he would have thought of taking his passport (or birth certificate).

yet could work easily for everyone…

One additional instruction on the card could have helped Bob and prevented him from having to embark on a strenuous bus journey across town twice.

Sometimes it’s only one extra line that can make a document so much more user-friendly, but often it’s more than that. Think of seemingly contradicting instructions on how to put together a shelf, or the latest letter from your bank that requires a degree in accounting or finance to understand it.

If you want to know how to write documents that work, check out our free information session.

January 27, 2010 at 8:56 pm Leave a comment


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