Friday, August 24, 2012

Bad grammar, poor punctuation: a sure recipe for disaster at your workplace

Yes, I am a Grammar Nazi.

That is why, in 2010, I posted 50 rants on Facebook, at the rate of one rant a day.

That is why, last month, I published a post based on a Harvard Business Review article on why good grammar is important for everyone, not just journalists.

And that is why I am now suggesting that every young person should read a feature on grammar gaffes that appeared in Mint recently.

It may be cool to use the latest lingo, the article asserts, but bad grammar and poor punctuation at the workplace could puncture your chances of getting a great job or a coveted promotion.

Here's the business head (south) of Titan Industries, Suparna Mitra, making a relevant point:

The quality of language today has become pathetic. Youngsters, even from premier business institutes, just don’t have a feel for the language.

Mitra says she finds even so-called communication experts like PR agencies sending out press releases riddled with grammatical and punctuation errors.

Sangeeta Singh of KPMG is just as scathing:

Today, the English language is being attacked on many fronts. Gen Y has converted English into a whole new language — LOL (Laugh out Loud), WUD (What U doing ), CU (See you) — ably aided by new social media and technology!

And banker-turned-corporate trainer Tarini Vaidya explains how grammatical errors have the potential for economic and other serious consequences

It was so stressful when I was a CXO with approval authority. Often an email would say, ‘Once we will credited the amount in our bank, update you for the same?’ It took me several minutes to completely understand what I had been told. Another sample: ‘Please approval for prematuring deposit. Customer want urgently demand draft for payment.’ I’d pray I wasn’t giving approvals to somebody wanting to sell the bank or do something illegal.

Vaidya adds that poorly constructed sentences, jumbled tenses, and missed keywords could have serious consequences, quite apart from the poor impression they create of the writers of these muddled missives.

Vaidya also has a meaningful message for young people out there:

Do not take pride in your incorrect English.

Read the article in its entirety here: "Grammar gaffes".
  • Meanwhile, I am grateful to Commitscion Supriya Srivastav (Class of 2011), for posting on my Facebook wall a link to this hilarious yet very instructive "Word Crimes" video on YouTube: 

So, did you learn something from watching that video? I sure hope so. :-)

  • Mint also features a regular column on English usage by a former professor of English, V.R. Narayanaswami: "Plain Speaking".
  • "We cannot help associating 'bad' grammar with low intelligence, sloppiness and lack of refinement." True? Read on: Good Applicants With Bad Grammar. Join the debate.

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