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Can you spot the slang in this sample excerpt from a business email?

Dear Ms O’Connor,

I am writing to follow up on my interview from last week. First of all, it was awesome to meet you. You are a really cool lady. I believe I would be a pro at all the stuff you mentioned that would be required of me in this job. I am not a workaholic, but I do work hard and take care of business. Haha. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely, M. Ernest Anderson(If you are having difficulty spotting the slang above, do read on!)

*Editor’s note: This is part of a ‘mini-series’ where Neue’s good friend, Davidson, will share tips on how to improve your writing. From all of us here at Neue, we hope these articles will help improve your business writing skills and help you to succeed in your workplace.

In today’s article, we’ll be talking about colloquialism, slang, and jargon, which we may knowingly or unintentionally use in our business documents. First, let’s understand the difference.Colloquialism is the use of informal words, phrases, or even slang in a piece of writing. Colloquialisms are generally understood by most age groups if the speakers are all from the same area or region.

Slang, however, is usually used in specific social groups who have similar backgrounds. For example, most Malaysians in West Malaysia end their sentence with ‘la, or lah’. In Borneo, however, they are more likely to use ‘bah’ instead. In any case, these are considered slang. Colloquialisms may sometimes have slang within them, but this is not always the case.

Similar to slang, jargon is used only by certain groups, and it often refers to words used in a particular profession. Jargon is not slang. It is made of specialised terms from politicians, lawyers, HR professionals, computer programmers, and accountants, and these terms when used, tend to be terms that only those within that industry can usually understand – terms like leverage, onboarding, synergy, hegemony, Boolean, nested, conveyance, balanced scorecard, and intestate are some examples used within these specific professions or industries.

For example, how lawyers speak is so specific to their profession that it is often known as “legalese.” You may often hear them use words like indigent, arbitration, plaintiff, decree, contempt, etc. Many other professions that rely on exchanging complex information also use jargon, such as scientists, doctors, and businesspeople. The use of jargon only works when addressing a specific audience, or most people might have to scramble for a dictionary, and that makes for a tiring reading experience.

Here are some common slang used in the workplace:

Slang

Meaning

All-nighter

Studying all night

Awesome

Great

Check it out, check this out

Look at, watch, examine

Chocoholic, workaholic, shopaholic

A person who is addicted to chocolate/work/shopping

Cool

Good, fashionable

Crack up

To laugh uncontrollably

Dude, man

Person, man

Gross, nasty

Disgusting

Screw up

Make a mistake

Stuff

Things (used as a singular, noncount noun)

Taking care of business

Doing things that need to be done

Bamboozle

To deceive

Bo bananas, or go nuts

Go insane or be very angry

Wanna

Want to

Gonna

Going to

Y’all

You all

Be blue

To be sad

Buzz off

Go away

Common Internet Slang

Meaning

Hashtag

Hashtags use the # symbol before the keywords

DM 

A direct message – for private communication with someone

AMA 

Short for “Ask Me Anything”

Troll

People who usually post or respond to comments in a way that will annoy or anger most people

Meme (pronounced meem)

A meme is an image, text or video that’s copied and modified over and over again, usually by imitation

Facepalm

A facepalm is a gesture where you put the palm of your hand on your face

Epic fail

When someone fails, usually due to an easily avoided mistake

Totes 

“Totes” is a shortened version of “totally”

Just sayin’

A way to deliver a rude or mean sentence, and make it seem less rude by adding ‘just sayin’ at the end

Noob

Someone who is new to something, a beginner

Photobomb

When someone or something appears in a photo unexpectedly, without the photographer meaning to include it

OTL

An emoji depicting great sadness, as the letters denote a man kneeling on the floor, showing disappointment

Using colloquialism and slang in your writing is very informal and should be avoided, especially in business writing. When conversing, however, it is usually acceptable, especially when talking to friends or when you in an informal setting.

What are some of the slang that it is unacceptable to use in business writing? Drop me a note or comment on today’s post. I would love to hear all about it. If you have a question or need any advice on writing, we are here to answer them.

Do you need training for your department or organisation? Give yourself an advantage during this work from home period, by learning how to improve your writing. For more information, drop an e-mail to Neue’s Digital Editor, Lance Thoo, at [email protected] .

Stand a chance to win

Stand a chance to win my book – “8 Vital Skills to Succeed at the Workplace” – by re-writing the passage below so that it is concise and concrete:

“This sounds like an amazing initiative during these indeterminate times considering the current global pandemic. People do have a preference to have access to information at their own suitability. I would like to share a few thoughts with you which I hope can help bring your projects to fruition. Please look into your diary and revert with your soonest availability to pencil in a discussion”.

Send your proposed answers to Neue’s Digital Editor, Lance Thoo, via WhatsApp (+6738124126) or drop a DM to Neue’s Instagram @whatsneue.

Click on the photo for some tips on how to tackle the question above.