VisibleThread – Language Analysis Platform

Brave new world: How technology has changed language forever

2 min read

Fergal McGovern

CEO & Founder

The advent of buzzwords, acronyms, emoji’s and other technology changed language forever, but companies should remember that clear writing is the key to winning customers.

Technology has transformed language. The change has been a long time coming, but accelerated around the turn of the millennium. The catalyst for change was the widespread adoption of broadband in the developed world, making high-speed internet relatively ubiquitous.

How did the change take place?

Articles on this topic go back years, but we can trace the change to the advent of email. At that time, short, snappy messages gradually replaced written letters. Then came text messages, social media channels, and messaging apps. Each one chipped away at our traditionally formal way of writing messages to each other. Plain language changed.

Consider how we use language to communicate in writing today. Acronyms, buzzwords and even emojis are common. Messages are rarely longer than a few lines. Plenty of people have bemoaned our increasingly shorter attention spans. But with that has come language that is more easily digestible. Is it plain English?

Yes and no. At VisibleThread, we extoll the virtues of writing in plain language. Plain English is the cornerstone of successful corporate communications. It is essential that you structure your message in a readable and concise way, using clear language. However, short and snappy does not necessarily mean clear and concise. Short and snappy can still mean bad English. Short sentences can still ramble.

So, how do you fix your content?

For our analysis, we used VT Writer. It’s a lightweight readability tool for Doc, Web and Text analysis. The nice thing is that it flags issues at paragraph level and it’s free. There is also a paid version which generates some nice reports. But we were fine with just the free version.

Take a look at this example of writing from a piece about annoying business jargon in Forbes. This piece seeks to identify bad writing, but falls into its own trap.