I spent the first 25 years or so of my life in England. Besides experiencing copious amounts of precipitation, I was also exposed to shops with signs that read something like “Ye Olde Tea Shoppe”. It was quaint and reminded people of a life hundreds of years ago in an England that was medieval. Indeed, it’s true that “ye” and words with an “e” on the end, date back quite a few hundred years. For businesses looking to attract history-hunting tourists, add a “ye” and an “e” and you’re well on your way.
The English language is constantly evolving, both in the creation of new words and in rules of grammar. Go back to Chaucer and Shakespeare, and their English is very different to what we use today. In 2015, unless you’re opening a tea shop in an English village, you won’t be using the word “ye” instead of “the”.
Rules of grammar and spelling are important. They help us communicate better as we’re all working to the same guidelines. But, those rules can and do change. As creators of content, we need to juggle between the need to maintain some conventions, while at the same time writing in a way that’s more relevant today. If we wrote a user guide or other technical documentation in Shakespearean English, it would be something to behold. Yet, our users probably wouldn’t read it at all, seeing it as outdated, heavy, and not good for its purpose.
We all need to take a long hard look at our content and see whether it’s right for today’s audience. Is it presented in a way that’s easy to use? Does it read in a way that modern users are used to and expect? Our world is constantly changing and so is the way our users consume information. Here are a couple of small changes. What do you think?
- Numbers below 10, should be written as a digit, so “Three blind mice” becomes “3 Blind Mice.
- Make headings sentence case, so the title of this post becomes “Ye olde blogge poste”.