Archive for the ‘ Social Networking ’ Category

Impact of social networks on written language is concerning

It took longer than I expected to finish this article. Not so much because I am rusted due to time lapse since the last post in this blog, but hopefully the reasons will become clear as you read on.

I learnt that the North-West University Vaal Triangle Campus got all its ±5 000 first year students to write English language assessment exam at the beginning of the first term in February this year. Apparently only 1 in every 300 students passed the exam. This is a shocking result when taken at face value. Well, we know that one of the reasons relates to the “garbage in, garbage out” principle resulting from the sub-standard education that the majority of South African pupils have been receiving for decades now. But, I would like to explore another possible reason for the poor state of written language.

Disclaimer: The results above were not verified with the University, but suffice to say a sizable amount of the first years failed the exam.

Written Business Communications

Written Business Communications

After spending large amounts of time posting and commenting on Facebook and Twitter in the last 6 months, I am battling to use “proper” written language. While I don’t mind social networking-type shorthand with words such as Tx, K, LMao, lol, OMG, gr8 or L8er when I write to family and friends; most of my written language applies in business communications where an innocent spelling mistake can lead to undesirable perceptions being formed about one’s level of intelligence by prospective partners and clients. Consider that set standards in business communications came into effect long before the advent of social networking, and the likelihood of them changing to accommodate this new tsunami is muddled by the debate in the academic circles that it is a “flavor of the month”.

Given my battle with what I call the social networking language creep, the question that has increasingly been bugging me is: what about the generation who were born from the mid 1980’s, and who are ardent users of Facebook, MXit and Twitter? Can they string a paragraph together using “proper” written language in line with Business Communications 101? While this post is  from a South African perspective, I am certain that written language as we used to know it is under threat across the world due to the pervasive impact of social networking on how we construct sentences.

I hear you asking what is the relevance of being born after 1980? Well, this generation still has a few more years to bed down business communication writing skills due to limited working experience (that is, for those who are lucky to have work). Thus, unlike me, their battle with the social networking language creep is even harder.

Is this another stark reminder that new technologies are de facto changing the way written language should be taught in all academic institutions and applied in the business world? Is this a bad thing? What do you think?


I am the founder of eNitiate Integrated Solutions, a digital marketing company. I am also a co-founder of Nuffdotty and Diski4life.  I am an infopreneur, digital strategist, avid marketer, and an eternal student.

You can also check out my latest post on InMarketingSpeak, blog about Marketers’ relationship with digital marketing.