Slice of Life 4: Watch your language!
By Janice Ewing
When I was growing up, this admonition mainly referred to cursing, or any other words or phrases deemed inappropriate for polite use. (I think the subtext was “Watch how you speak to adults!”) Now, I find myself thinking about the value of watching our language in a much broader context, in our speaking as well as in our writing. A great resource on this subject for teachers is Peter Johnston’s Choice Words. Word choice, tone, nuance, connotation all come into play in our communication and influence how our intended message is perceived. We’ve all experienced the e-mail message that we don’t quite know how to interpret…
What specifically got me thinking about word choice this morning was receiving one of those e-mail bouncebacks that always seem to pop up just as you’re thinking you can cross that communication off your list. This was not the “We’ll keep trying one.” It was the “Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently” one, followed by the always helpful “Technical details of permanent failure.” I’ll admit that there’ve been times I received that message in moments of stress and thought of myself as the “permanent failure” and no, I did not go on to read the “technical details.” There has to be a gentler way to notify the sender of the status of their message. Any suggestions?
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.