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Lecture

Module 4: Word Choice, Conciseness, and Tone

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Department
English
Course
ENGL 210F
Professor
Judah Oudshoorn
Semester
Summer

Description
Module 4: Word Choice, Conciseness, and Tone (May 24, 2012) Objectives: By the end of this module, you should be able to:  use familiar language to communicate your ideas concisely,  explain the impact tone can have in business messages, and  differentiate between personal and impersonal style Readings: Chapter 3 and 4 What is a Business Style?  Definition: the rules, conventions, and options you need to consider whenever you write.  A business style is a reflection of how you and your company do business Key things to consider:  Use correct grammar  Think about the “sound” of your words  Eliminate frustrating and confusing messages A good business style helps with:  Career growth,  Personal growth, and  Corporate credibility Plain Style A plain style uses the following conventions:  Plain and everyday language (but not slang)  Common everyday works (ex: “express” rather than “delineate”  Reasonable sentence length  Active-voice verbs and phrasal verbs o Passive: The letter was mailed by John o Active: John mailed the letter  Personal pronouns ( I, you, and we) o Instead of: John Smith is to be named the new vice president of marketing and John Smith will be working gout of the Toronto office o Use: John Smith is to be named the new vice president of marketing and he will be working out of the Toronto office  Unambiguous language (clearly represent what you are trying to get across to the readers)  Close subject and verb placement  Avoid overly long sentences o Overly Long: Literally, global warming refers to an increasing global temperature over time, although by the early 1990s, more than 70 definitions of global warming were in circulation, definitions that are important, despite their number, because they are the basis on which the means for achieving an effective action plan in the future can be built. o Three sentences: Literally, global warming refers to an increasing global temperature over time. By the early 1990s, more than 70 definitions of global warming were in circulation. These definitions are important, despite their number, because they are the basis on which the means for eliciting action in the future can be built. Word Choice  Use familiar words whenever possible. o Curb your use of: Words ending in “ize” and “ization”, Words derived from French, Foreign words and phrases, Jargon, and buzz words  Use language that is fresh and current. o Edit for Clichés, Outdated business expressions, Slang, and Text messaging language (smiley’s and emoticons).  Keep language specific, precise, and functional. o Tips to remember: Provide specific details and concrete nouns to help readers act on information and requests. Quantity facts and avoid vague qualitative statements Avoid ambiguous and non-idiomatic expressions Use comparisons and analogies to clarify meaning  How will the message be transmitted o How you communicate reflects both your own and your organization’s ethical practices. o Be reasoned, factual, and moderate in your judgements (unbiased, inclusive, non- discriminating). o Consider the impact on other and yourself o Consult qualified colleagues o Avoid libellous language.  Word Choice o Be timely and accurate o Avoid untrue, deceptive, and misleading statements o Know disclosure practices, proper channels, and confidentiality o Acknowledge sources to avoid plagiarism Achieving Conciseness  Achieving conciseness requires a fine balance  Conciseness is desirable but too much can make writing uneven, choppy, blunt, or rude.  Aim for: Conciseness, completeness, and politeness.  Eliminate long lead-ins.  Revise noun conversions (nominalizations).  Eliminate redundancies.  Revise empty words and phrases.  Use precise, strong, and accurate verbs.  Original (does not achieve conciseness): o This is a just a very brief memo to inform you that it is the opinion of the employee council that at the present time it is expedient to undertake an investigation of the possible institution of a proposed on-site fitness centre. Kindly be advised that anytime up to August 31 you should make your views known to your employee council representative.  Revised (does achieve conciseness): o The employee council invites your input on the proposed creation of an on-site fitness centre. Please contact your employee council representative before August 31. 
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