2 min Read
March 25, 2011

OMG! The OED Has Driven a Stake Through my <3! LOL!

A little piece of me died as I wrote that title. But the Oxford English Dictionary has added OMG, LOL, and the “heart” symbol (among other words) to this year’s edition of their dictionary. Ouch.

Language constantly evolves. That’s one thing that makes it so tremendous. And how we communicate (voice, phone, email, text) changes the language we use, and the language we use affects how we use those vehicles of communication. Language lives and breathes, nonprofiteers! Amazing!

You can tell I’m particularly excited about this topic because I’m breaking my own rule about avoiding exclamation points!

Writers are notoriously stubborn and unforgiving about grammatical rules and language usage. I’m not immune. I am deeply resistant to using these new OED-approved words. It will take a whole heck of a lot of convincing for me to type those in any context other than discussing the initialisms themselves.

So what would convince me to use OMG, LOL, <3, TMI, and even FYI? Only one thing. The right audience.

Every word we put down on the page–paper or electronic–we write for an audience. In the nonprofit world, that means we write for our donors, our advocates, and our participants. We never write for ourselves.

So when I resist using OMG, TMI, etc., it’s only because I personally (and correctly, I might add) hate those words.

And if I were writing an email newsletter for the AARP, it would be deeply inappropriate to slip a WTF in there. But if I were sending out a text-to-give email to a bunch of thirteen-year-old girls at a Rebecca Black concert (look her up, if you dare), dropping a few LOL bombs wouldn’t be out of the question.

(Asking for donations from thirteen-year-old girls raises another whole set of questions about strategy, not to mention ethics, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Fortunately for me, nothing I write at the moment warrants using these newly approved words. But if Big Duck were to suddenly get a client that desperately needs to communicate with the youth of today, I guess I’ll have to suck it up and use them.

I may have to jab a pair of scissors beneath my kneecap while I use them, but I’ll use them. (And if I were fifteen, I might tack an LOL on the end of that last sentence.)

Dan Gunderman

Dan Gunderman is the Former Creative Director at Big Duck

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