Business Writing Tip # 17 – It’s all French to Me, or Latin, or …

It’s all French to Me, or Latin, or …

But of course it should not be. It should be English.

Avoid foreign phrases and jargon if you can think of a simple English equivalent.

Apart from the very common and widely accepted ‘etc’ it is best to avoid using foreign words in your writing. You are writing to be understood. You may be familiar with déjà vu, comme il faut, inter alia, ad nauseam, et al., ipso facto and objet trouvé, but using these terms distances you from your reader. Readers of English may once have commonly understood these expressions, but it is unrealistic in an age of global Business English, to expect your readers to know what you’re talking about. And you don’t want to send them scurrying off for a dictionary every sentence, do you?

The same goes for jargon. You may diarise and prioritise; you may want your team to take a ‘helicopter view’ or ‘get their ducks in a row’; a hospital patient may be told to ambulate or mobilise. But what is wrong with ‘put this in your diary’ and ‘make this a priority’? Look at the overall situation, or make sure you are prepared? In hospital wouldn’t it be far simpler to ask patients to walk or move about?

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