Business English Quick Tips: swear words


Business English Quick Tips

If you need to write for your job or business in English, these quick tips will help you succeed.

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Swear words: is there a place for them in business writing?

Moving on a step from slang, which we looked at last week …

There are many people out there – and not just older folks – who find swearing objectionable, and you can’t blame them. Mostly they have been brought up to believe that swearing and cursing are disrespectful to the majority of people. My parents put across, to me, the diktat that the use of swear words merely demonstrated one’s ignorance and lack of vocabulary (mind you, that all went out of the window when one of them stepped on a live wasp or slammed their finger in a car door.)

 Two categories – religious, and vulgar

 As far as I can see it, swearwords in our modern age fall into two categories: 1) religious cursing, and 2) vulgarisms.

 Religious cursing is very sensitive for many people despite being taken for granted by millions.  And what about words like “damn,” damned,” or “damning?” Despite those appearing largely innocuous these days, should someone wish to take it to the limit, there could be a religious connotation here.

And that doesn’t even begin to infiltrate what some people write using terms that may offend a whole host of religions from Christian to Judaism to Islam to who knows how many more. So in your business writing, especially but not exclusively if your business activities cross over into different cultures, you should never use a religious swearword.

How about the vulgarisms?

small_3002056333This is where we get some crossover between slang (inoffensive) and swearwords (offensive). Once again, whether to use slang and some swearwords in your business writing depends entirely on the audience you’re addressing.

A few well-chosen “rude” words in a piece of business writing aimed at readers who use those terms regularly and are comfortable with them, can actually make your message more appealing because it is phrased in your readers’ own “language.” Such words can also be humorous and help to entertain your readers which – once again, to the right audience – can be very helpful in getting your message over.

Conversely of course, using rude slang and swearwords inappropriately can make you (and your business message) look coarse, common and disrespectful.

An example: where somewhat ruder language would be right for the job

Imagine that you work for a company which sells electric guitars and other instruments to rock bands and “wannabee” rock musicians. The Chairman has written out a product description for the website and your job is to rework it so it appeals to its target audience, but without changing the structure or overall approach. Here is what the Chairman wrote:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of the latest in our ZX-50 series of electronic guitars, with the new ZX-50 Star. This instrument is made of the finest materials and is presented with an attractive metallic deep pink finish which follows the current cultural fashions. The Star is available in both 6-string and 8-string formats, allowing users the choice between the traditional main guitar role and the more melodic interpretations possible with the 8-string configuration. The Star is currently being distributed to retailers around the country and will be available for purchase early next month.

For trendy young rockers? I don’t think so. How about this?

We’re thrilled to introduce you to our brand new baby in the super-cool ZX-50 series of guitars – the sizzling ZX-50 Star. We’ve made it out of the very latest space-age materials and turned it out in the sharpest, f-off metallic pink you’ll ever see … your audiences will be blinded by its brilliance. The Star comes in both 6-string and 8-string formats, so you can choose between a dog’s-bollox 6-string lead or the ultra-chilled mysterious sounds of the humming 8-string. It’s on its way to the music shops and online stores now and will be ready and waiting for you to buy, early next month.

And on to next week … and if you have any questions about business writing in English please add them here in the comments section; I will try to answer them as well as I can!


More quick fixes to make your bizwriting brilliant (instant downloads)

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write
The MAMBA Way to make your words sell“…how to think your way to superbly successful sales writing
“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

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