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Message Not Received: Why Business Communication Is Broken and How to Fix It by Phil Simon

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3What We SayExamining Words at Work

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language—so the argument runs—must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

—George Orwell, 1946

Orwell is right. New words, phrases, and axioms have always made their way into the vernacular. Think about the additions and modifications of just the last 10 to 15 years.

We historically used the word text as a noun; up until fairly recently, people never texted each other. Pre-Twitter, terms like tweet, retweet, hashtag, and trending didn’t exist.a Facebook made like a noun and friend a verb—and billions of dollars in the process. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) formally accepted Google as a verb in 2006, defining it as “to use the Google search engine to find information on the Internet.” The OED 2013 International Word of the Year 2013 was selfie. Blogging used to be called journaling. Netflix has popularized binge-watching.

Each of these words is a neologism, a fancy word to describe newly coined terms, expressions, or methods ...

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