Johnnie Moore

The perils of formal language

Johnnie Moore

Johnnie Moore

I’m Johnnie Moore, and I help people work better together

Jon Evans makes some good arguments about the trouble with Clinical Standard Written English. It used to be that writing this way was a mark of authority.  But now…

people who write in CSWE actually mark themselves as untrustworthy by doing so. Because the new usage, call it Modern Written English, is everything CSWE is not: first-person colloqiual, breezy, open, and personal. That’s what readers understand and trust. But if you write like a high-school essay, or the Wall Street Journal? That is now a big red flag. Your readers don’t know you … but they do know that you have deliberately hidden who you are, by donning that mask called CSWE. And on some level they do not like it.

A lot of management-speak falls into the same trap. It effectively gets into the trap of playing high status but actually evoking distrust, even contempt, rather the admiration or respect.

Hat tip: Tim Kastelle

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