Archive for April 16th, 2011

Is our language getting lost ?

16 Apr

Sup man, how u been ? Ima miss ya when you’re gone.

What? You did not get this?? Well this is how communication works today – and that was just an easy one. Here’s the ‘translation’ to the language that you are probably more familiar with if you are 29 and up:

What’s up man, how have you been doing ? I will miss you once you will be gone.

Don’t get me wrong – I am German and maybe I should not criticize the development of English language in the US. But this is – by no means – an issue only the US has to deal with. It has become a growing concern in many other countries as well – including Germany. One reason truly is our ways of communication. For some of us it might be hard to believe but there actually was a time where people wrote letters to each other to communicate. Once the letter was written, it was taken to the receiver by the next post coach. As an example, a delivery from Berlin to Frankfurt (~550km, ~340 miles) took approximately one week. Of course, there has been plenty of technological progress since that time. Today, we differentiate between two types of communication channels:

Direct communication channels such as Instant Messaging, a phonecall or face-to-face conversations provide the instant delivery of messages from a sender to a receiver but require a specific attention from all participants (eg. being in the same room or using the same protocol/client).

Some examples for indirect communication channels are letters, eMails or text messages. They do not provide the opportunity of a ‘real’ conversation but allow participants to consider and think about a received message before answering it. That being said, it seems like indirect channels are much more comfortable for both sides while participants of direct channels always feel that certain pressure pushing them to a quick response.

Currently, the most common channels used in businesses are eMail, the phonecall and face-to-face meetings. However, international operating corporations are more and more facing problems with – both internal and external – communication. The eMail has become more important than ever for today’s businesses and we have already discussed the issue of saying things right in an eMail.

So now we are facing the impacts of our fast-pacing life – the 2010 Plantronics study ‘How we work’ speaks for itself:


Today’s text messages among younger people look like described above and the question is if this simplification and abbreviation of language is a phase or if it might have an impact of actual language development in our society.

However, in a couple of  years – once the arising Generation Y aka Millennials has taken over the business world – they will also demand for new ways of communication. Another related challenge for this generation will be the fight against the informational overflow. A 2008 article of the New York Times “Struggling to evate the eMail Tsunami” and a 2010 article on GigaOm “Is eMail a curse or a boon?” have been the first forerunners announcing an arising issue.