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language

Literacy and Professionalism

I remember a time, not very long ago, when people assumed a link between literacy and professionalism. When producing text for public consumption people would always take the time to ensure that their spelling and grammar were correct. Obvious errors in copy would be seen as a lack of attention to detail and would throw grave doubts on your level of professionalism.

Those days are long over. Here are a couple of good examples from today.

Firstly, I got an email from an agent who was asking if I’d be interested in a requirement that she was trying to fill. Her email began like this:

I hope your well?

That is, of course, a perfectly reasonable sentiment to start an email with. It’s just a shame that her grammar let her down so badly. As well as confusing “you’re” and “your”, she has also tried to turn a sentence into a question. All in all it gives a bad impression of her company. If they can’t be bothered to spend the time getting the grammar right in an email, then can they be trusted to check a contract carefully?

Then, this afternoon, on Twitter, Chris Applegate made this observation:

My, there are a *lot* of “gorilla marketing” experts on LinkedIn

Would you consider taking marketing advice from someone who didn’t know the difference between “gorilla” and “guerilla”? I suspect that gorillas have a rather different marketing style to guerillas.

LinkedIn acts as a combination of a CV and an advertising hoarding. Seeing how you describe yourself there will often be the first impression that people have of your work. Making fundamental errors in your description can’t be a good idea. Are there really so many people out there looking for marketing people that they don’t care if you’re a gorilla or a guerilla? Or are the gorilla marketing experts aiming their services at clients who don’t know the difference either.

I strongly suspect that it’s the latter option that is closer to the truth. There are so many people out there who have a no real understanding of how the English language works that it really doesn’t matter whether or not you use it correctly. It’s only a rapidly shrinking group of curmudgeons like me who will ever notice.

I suppose that before I publish this, I should really go over my LinkedIn profile with a fine-toothed comb. I don’t think there are any errors, but I’m sure that my eagle-eyed readers will be able to spot one or two.