In school, we have all learnt about great poets, their command over the language and their remarkable skill of using a very few words and yet conveying a wealth of meaning. We looked forward to the language classes where we were mesmerized by such literary geniuses as William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge and R.L. Stevenson. The present day Wordsworth and Keats can now be spotted among the SMS generation. College kids lead this new wave of wizards who economize on words and they can be recognized by fingers flying at supersonic speeds on the keypads of their mobile phones. They don’t let the surroundings and company intimidate them. You can find them tapping away furiously on their mobile phones in restrooms, movie theaters, restaurants (where they manage to talk to their partners and also type at the same time) and public transport (with one hand holding on to support for dear life and the other hand typing away). U hv 2 c it 2 b’lieve it. Dis is a lingo dat sum hv bcum xperts @. Dey r quik n use sml vords. 2 b loyal 2 dis lingo, dey hv 2 vork @ it n pick da rite vords. Dis cums wid time. Sum vords rnt realy shrtnd by da lingo but dis is der uniq styl.
Then, there is the acronym bug that has bitten most of the IT world. This group has devised another innovative way of being sparing with words. They don’t want to waste email and virtual paper space on unnecessary words – and so you see mails where you can PFA the POC doc, commitment from colleagues that they will revert by COB or EOD depending on their work style and MOMs after meetings. BTW, these traits are IMHO unique to this group.
Use of acronyms in chat also needs a mention here. When you are going away from your machine for a while or want to avoid chatting with someone on IM, you inform the other person that you will BRB. When someone says something funny, you respond back with LOL. When you can’t go to office on some day, you inform everyone through a status message that you are WFH.
At the other end of the spectrum, the corporate world has introduced us to a new language “Management Speak”. This group possesses the unique skill of using powerful, multifaceted and convoluted sentences to convey a simple meaning. This is just so that the reader is blown away by the clever use of dynamic words and mesmerized by the powerful language. An example is the letter/mail sent to candidates informing them of their failure to get selected in job interview – “After unbiased observation of the skills you exhibited in the interviews and careful consideration by the various interview panels, we believe you bring in a very special skill set and diverse experience. However, we regret to inform you that your skill sets don’t match the requirements for our current job openings.” This art is predominantly seen in the middle and top management and the HR managers of every organization.
All those hours in school spent on learning Shakespeare and Mark Twain have not gone to waste after all. Our language teachers would be very happy that their continuous efforts to instill a deep appreciation of language have borne fruit.
For the uninitiated:
PFA – Please Find Attached, used when you are attaching a document in your mail. This was formerly the enclosures section.
POC – Proof of Concept, used for vetting out a concept to determine the feasibility of its implementation, the look before you leap concept
COB – Close of Business, generally used to postpone your deliverable to the last possible minute of the office closing hour.
EOD – End of Day, generally used when you want to postpone your deliverable to the last possible minute of the day.
BTW – By The Way, used to express your afterthoughts and generally to be a pain in the neck.
IMHO – In My Humble Opinion, used to express a strong opinion and cleverly hide behind the humility façade.
BRB – Be Right Back, generally used to escape from something difficult, for example, when your boss calls you for a one-on-one meeting a.k.a. giving a dress down.
LOL – Lots of Laughs, used to express your delight at something funny
WFH – Working from Home