I was intrigued to read in The Times today, that our language is altering. In fact a number of words I use, are, apparently declining in usage. In fact “Marvellous”; a word much favoured by my wonderful website designer, Stewart has declined so much in popularity, that it could disappear completely.
Cambridge University Press and Lancaster University conducted the study of our language usage and they found certain words were being used less, and others more. Of course, this has always been the case: certain words are in vogue for a particular time and others are taken on with new technology. Anyone that reads Nancy Mitford or Noel Coward will realise that ‘Gay’ has a different meaning, for example.
Here are the words that are in decline:
Fortnight, marvellous, fetch, walkman, poll, catalogue, pussy cat, marmalade, drawers.
Here are words that are on the way up:
Facebook, internet, website, awesome, email, google, smartphone, essentially, treadmill
Looking at the words in decline, my walkman has been consigned to the museum of memories; in the 1980s we all had them, but times have moved on. The researchers felt that pussy cat wasn’t being used frequently now, as it has increasingly been associated with more sexual connotations. Gone are the days of Mrs Slocombe and her cat on “Are you being served‘.
Reflecting on the words that are gaining popularity, most are related to IT and the internet. Technology has infiltrated our everyday speech and language. We’ll access an online brochure rather than have a hard copy catalogue posted through our letter box. And ‘Awesome’ appears on any US sitcom. FYI, I appeared on a USA radio show and the interviewer said “Awesome” every other word. I struggled to maintain my composure at one point.
Perhaps the time has come to consider the language we use when we speak to others. Speaking and the content are part of our personal brand; they enable others to calculate whether or not we’re ‘right’ for them. If we’re an internet based company, we might wish to use a lot of current, technical words (without being overwhelming); within wedding businesses we’re likely to use language that is specific for brides. Likewise a business aimed at a particular demographic. Cutting edge technical terms are less likely to resonate to over 60s than people in their 20s.
Age, gender, background, culture and interests are a number of factors to consider when choosing the language to speak. I often mention that knowing your audience and taking the time to research this, is valuable time spent. If I am able to connect with a potential customer by speaking their ‘language’, I will engage with them on a far deeper level.
So if you want to ensure you engage – and don’t come across dated, WATCH you spoken language.
What do you think? Do you believe the language we use attracts and resonates with different people? What is your view on this. Do leave a message in the comments box.
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