Of Official Note

We’ve all had encounters with ‘officialese’, whether it was a letter for you to ‘kindly note’ something or a ‘for your perusal’ note or a ‘please fair’ note in an email.

When I first entered the workforce at 19 after my ‘A’ Levels as a relief teacher and started receiving thick official-looking mail pouches, I remember sitting at my table going through the letters line by line, wondering what they meant and what I needed to do. I gave up eventually and sought help from the other adults in the house.

Over the last few years however, in the course of drafting notes and emails and letters to parents, to bosses and to other organizations, using phrases like ‘Please take note that…’ and ‘For your perusal, please’ in official written communication have become so intuitive that I actually felt surprised when I learnt recently that it is not regarded fondly by many people.

“People are put off by such language. They are often frustrated and occasionally amused,” says Casimir Rozario, an associate trainer with the Civil Service College and former Director of Corporate Communications at MHA. (From this Challenge magazine article in January 2008)

So as much as I like how ‘Noted, with thanks’ sounds and how I appreciate the historical, almost mysterious feel of ‘Please fair’, I think change will soon be upon us, unless we choose to go the New Yorker way and stick to our beloved stock phrases like how the New Yorker has stuck to the diaeresis.

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