At the recent Australian STC conference, Neil James was asked why people write Manglish, or mangled English. I very much like what he had to say.
(As quoted in Sarah Maddox’s blog, ffeathers. Emphasis mine.)
- At school, we imbibe the notion that complex writing is better writing. Waffle gets reasonable marks, provided it’s elegant waffle.
- Early in our careers in the professional and technical workplace, mastering and using the technical jargon of our field gives us a stronger feeling of belonging.
- When we learn the tech vocabulary of a particular industry, it’s difficult to adjust to communicating with a lay audience.
- Institutional culture reinforces the language patterns. Large organisations move slowly. It’s hard to change their processes. When you do successfully introduce change, the organisation moves steadily along the new path.
- Language is used as an expression of power. Sometimes, people deliberately use jargon to protect their financial interests or to manipulate public opinion. An example is from the airline industry, when people use the term “loss of separation” of two planes, which means the two planes collided.
What do you think? Have you experienced a “loss of separation” with some mangled English lately? What might’ve caused it, do you think?