The Sensitivity of Written Language

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As this commercial suggests, many people's lives now revolve around technology. No longer do people meet up with their friends at the local coffee shop to have a cup of coffee together while catching up on the latest gossip or even use their phones to call people. Instead, people are relying more on technology to communicate with each other, such as emails, text messages, and facebook, to name a few. However, there are multiple downfalls that come with replacing face to face communication with technology.

It is very easy for people to misinterpret written language. According to, around fifty percent of emails are interpreted the wrong way. A lifelong friendship can be destroyed in seconds after simply clicking the send button on an email or text message. One phrase that often appears in text messages is, "Oh okay." For example, I may ask a person if they want to go to the dining hall for dinner together or if they would be interested in going to the recreational center with me to go swimming. They may respond that they cannot go because they have already used up all of their meals for that week at the dining hall or that they have too much studying to do. After viewing their response, I may text back, "Oh okay." This can be interpreted in various ways depending on what syllable the emphasis is put on. A person may think it should be pronounced, "OH. OH-KAY." This makes it sound as if I am angry at them for not wanting to do anything with me. On the other hand, they could interpret the phrase as though my voice gets higher at the end, such as "oh oKAY!" This would mean that I respect their reason for not going and am just acknowledging that I received their text message. People often fail to realize the importance of facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice in successful communication.

There are many ways people can protect themselves from misinterpreted emails. Emoticons are becoming popular in communication technologies. People can place a smily face, consisting of a semi-colon followed by a left facing parenthesis, after something they say in an email to ensure that the comment is received lightheartedly and to let the recipient know that it was meant as a joke. Another technique that people could use would be to underline or italicize the word in the sentence that the emphasis is on. This would allow the person to hear the sentence in their head similar to the way that the person would actually say it. In addition, people should think twice before sending an email and reread their email to ensure that the wording of the email correctly depicts what they are trying to say. The safest thing to do, however, is to turn off the computer and meet with the person face to face.

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This page contains a single entry by rhein045 published on November 5, 2011 5:51 PM.

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