Underrated Language


I could write about all sorts of things with a title like that, but I’m really going to write about the lack of clarity I’ve found in professional emails.  Some people are hard to understand when you speak to them in person, but once you’ve lost body language and vocal intonation, it becomes nearly impossible to glean meaning from the words they have assembled.

For example, I recently submitted a bus request for a field trip to an administrator.  After I was approved, I discovered that one of the students coming was in a wheelchair.  So, I sent this message:

“Hey, Bob.  I discovered that one of the students attending my field trip in December is in a wheelchair, so I’ll need a wheelchair accessible bus.  Do I need to submit a new form, or can I just tell you and you can make the change?”

Bob replies:  “I don’t have the form.”

So, that leaves me with a puzzle.  Bob hasn’t answered my question.  So, since I don’t know what to do still, I sent him another message.  Still waiting on a reply.

I’ll save spelling/grammar errors(Your Invited) and the use of chat language (LOL), for another day, but it just irritates me when I get a message from a “professional” that I work with that is so unintelligible that I have to translate the meaning.  If I correct their mistake, I’m often rebuked with a “only YOU would notice this” or “you know what I mean.”  Really, so if I send out a math error, would you feel the same way?  Or if I accidentally made a science error in a professional email, would the science teachers just say “I know what you meant.”?

Why is the written language so underrated?

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.



  1. Eve said,

    October 19, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    I notice this happens a lot in spoken communication, too. You ask a question, but they don’t answer the question. Instead they go off on a tangent about whatever they want to say, using perhaps 1% of what you actually asked. It’s amusing when you don’t need an answer.

  2. October 20, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Ah, yes. Those are the wonderful people who are only listening so they know when they can jump in with what THEY want to talk about. It can be amusing, but is usually a big loss of time.

  3. renaissanceguy said,

    October 20, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    It’s always amazing to me that people who cannot write clearly act surprised and indignant when people do not understand what they write. Ugh!

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