Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Let's be frank.

Formal 'commercial English' doesn't make our writing more professional, just aloof, old-fashioned and bureaucratic.

We still find even young writers beginning letters and emails with 'I am writing to you regarding your correspondence of 21st September.' Why not: 'Thank you for your letter about...' or even, 'Thanks for your letter...'?

In workshops we often act out a mini-drama with one character speaking in the formal cliches of business English and the other using plain English. No one relates to the character using formal language and I've heard people say things like, 'I wanted to thump him'. Commercial English doesn't build relationships. It's not good service.

The great guru of English usage, Henry Fowler, referred to commercial English or commercialese as an 'evil tradition'. That was almost 90 years ago. Let's get rid of it.

Abandoning formal cliches doesn't mean adopting casual language. Write as if you were talking to the same person or group.



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