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Why communication is going down the toilet

By Waithera Muchoki - Mbai | January 27th 2016

NAIROBI: The acronyms, the short forms, the general massacre of the Queen’s language drives me nuts!

Today I am calling out the millennials over gross misconduct when communicating and especially in the official context. Examples range from gaffes such as misspelt words in official communication to true catastrophes such as the use of colloquial language in their resumes.

I love the English language, its intricacies and idiosyncrasies. Any language is art when well spoken - a simple turn of phrase can paint a picture. Fact is, communication is key in any human relationship and the use of language, written or spoken, is the standard against which one is measured. When you speak your mind it matters how you say it. Eloquence commands respect and an audience.

And while the focus is on young people, we all need to communicate better. Poor communication is not the province of the young. There are many instances where leaders have said things that were hilarious, ridiculous or simply in bad taste. Words have led to wars. Remember the “Hotbed of Terror” phrase that led to a virtual attack on CNN?

So, how do we curtail this downward spiral? Begin by disallowing poor communication in your own house and on your gadgets. I refuse to answer texts and messages that do not adhere to basic language rule. Rules such as the use of punctuation and capitalisation, complete words instead of acronyms. Keeping it clean, no cursing, and yes it’s cursing not cussing, no writing in upper case - which is the equivalent of SHOUTING AT SOMEONE IN A WRITTEN MESSAGE.

Beyond the immediate we need to inculcate a tradition of reading in our children since the best way to learn words is in the context found in a well written story. Introduce your children to books as soon as they can sit up. Even a baby can be fascinated by the colour found in picture books. That way when they grow up, books will be part of their world. If you have already missed that window, then teach your older child to read. Ask them to pick a book from an appropriate list and having read it give a report on it. They will thank you for it later, when they succeed in that job interview or are picked at a competitive college of their choice on the strength of their language skills.

In the meantime, I am taking a stand to defend the use of appropriate language. Maybe then my children will not write OMG when surprised, will actually laugh instead of saying LOL, will call their significant others darling instead of bae or boo and will not ask me to send them anything by writing 2100 (tumia). I live in hope.

Aluta Continua.

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