As a native English speaker, I can assure you that many of us who are sometimes overlook the challenges and complexities our language present. In fact, I’ve even heard it said that English is one of the most difficult languages to learn as a second language. Even for those of us who grew up speaking it as our primary source of linguistic communication, there are a few things that often result in confusion and technical errors.
With that in mind, here is a link to an excellent source from the good people at Writer’s Digest that helps to differentiate between commonly confused words.
The article discusses the terms:
Who vs. Whom
Which vs. That
Since vs. Because
Sneaked vs. Snuck
Ensure vs. Insure
Home in vs. Hone in
Leaped vs. Leapt
Native and non-Native English speakers
It has been said that English (which is my first and in all honesty except for a few courses years ago my only language) is among the most difficult to learn for non-native speakers. But there is more to it that just that. Even for native speakers, depending upon your culture and where you live, the same word or phrase can have quite a different meaning.
The basic definition refers to a highly elastic solid substance. However, when cultural slang comes into play, the meanings are quite different. In the United States, a “rubber” is a nickname for a condom. But, you walk into a pharmacy to purchase a rubber in England, you might just be out of luck. You’d be better off going to an office supply store as that a common meaning in the United Kingdom is simply an eraser.
While like the aforementioned example, this word has a basic core meaning but when cultural influences come into play things change dramatically. I once had a co-worker from India. In a conversation about sports, she commented that she had been a player in her school days. While she meant that she had been an athlete, the rest of those involved in the chat snickered a little before mentioning the American meaning – a person (usually male) who is a master manipulator when it comes to sexually seducing others.
Quite simply, when either writing or speaking, the same word in the same language can hold an entirely strange connotation for one man in say America and another in Europe or Asia. So watch your mouth, before you speak.
As one of many writers for hire out there, I take my craft seriously. I love the English langauge, at least so much as one can love such an inanimate concept, thus can’t stand seeing it mutulated.
What do I mean? Well, I’m talking about text speak.
While this sloppy jargon does have it’s place, that place is not in business e-mails, academics, professional documents or any similarly formal writings.
Could you imagine seeing a cover letter starting like this?:
OMG, I’d luv to work for your company. My skills would make me the best employee ever!
I would simply throw it in the trash can as that it is not worth the cheep, recycled paper it was written on and is even an insult to the printer that had to use up valuable ink to produce this garbage.
Then what would I do? I’d probably sit back and wait for the author of the cover letter to textually berate me with a big fat WFT?