Grammar Salvation by Bennett Quillen

by Bennett Quillen

The everyday application of correct grammar and proper vocabulary in business is abysmal. It is intolerable, both in a written and verbal context.  These issues have become so bad that there is poor communication and business productivity has been adversely affected.  There is the distinct possibility of increased risk throughout an organization, both financial and operational, because of poor grammar and incoherent vocabulary.


Incorrect or imaginary words may seem to fit the situation at the time and even provide a tangible hook to an idea, much as an advertising slogan.  A term or phrase, such as making verbs out of nouns, is often used as a quick way to describe a situation.

Nevertheless, we must fight the impulse to use sloppy or incorrect words.  It may require us to slow down in our thinking and speaking, but that may well have a beneficial effect.  Indeed, just as we fall into the habit of poor language usage, we can gain benefits by proper word usage.

Poor word usage is often a disguise or crutch for fuzzy thinking.  The speaker or writer cannot clearly state what he/she wants to say, so a fuzzy (e.g. making a verb out of a noun or inappropriate word as “ecoimagination”) will be substituted.  The speaker may be totally unaware that he is doing it, but such consistent usage of poor terms and grammar will eventually affect others in her group or company, and ultimately our society. 

A possible solution is to develop some form of a grading index, which auditors could apply to the overall operational and financial health of the company.  The idea is to grade a company on the usage of poor vocabulary in its public announcements or press releases and speeches by its executives.  Companies such as GE would probably fall way down the scale; however, companies such as Emerson Electric would do well.  Large financial institutions would generally do rather poorly, especially outfits as JPMorganChase

I suggest there is a correlation between poor word usage and less than effective corporate results.  If executive managers permit, even espouse, poor terminology the ultimate result can only be poor communication, ineffective customer service, inefficient operations and procedures, and finally: lackluster operating results.