I know that everyone is rushing to the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi or KU  to enrol for Chinese since the Chinese people are  gaining a heavy presence in  Kenya. If the completion of the Thika super highway and other major constructions within the country(including the now controversial railway tender) did not alert you, then you must be living under a rock!  Mandarin fever has also spread to the local arm of an international bank that is on the hunt for Mandarin speakers in a bid to strengthen their ties with  the Asian giant.

Let’s pause for a minute and  read a little something from Dorie Clark:

With China’s growing economic might, is Mandarin becoming the preferred language of business? Not anytime soon, says a newly released study. Instead, English will maintain and grow its dominance, moving from “a marker of the elite” in years past to “a basic skill needed for the entire workforce, in the same way that literacy has been transformed in the last two centuries from an elite privilege into a basic requirement for informed citizenship.”

Read the whole article here

The basic requirement of  job seekers within the Kenyan market is an ability to express oneself  in English.  From all the career seminars that I have attended in the past, prospective employers demand that job seekers should  guard their image  by being keen on their written and spoken word.  I know that I have shared my feelings about  English being one of the most mutilated languages in the world in a previous post.  But I would like to refer to Derek Banga, an image consultant at Public Image Africa experience here on the same issue.

Being a product of 8-4-4  educational system while growing up in Nairobi with the prevalence of sheng has really tested my ability to communicate fluently. Let’s  add social media into the mix and one can just imagine the pressure to conform.

Personally, I have had to grapple with my stutter but I  found ways of coping through the years. One of my secrets is  writing  (…and doing lots of listening). In my spoken word, I used to use a lot of fillers but I  have since learned that they reduce the credibility of my message but I have since learnt the power of dramatic pause in capturing the attention of your audience.  Practising my speech and mastering the content of  my presentations is definitely a confidence boost. (See the link below for more tips).

Bottom line: There’s  nothing wrong with using lol or xoxo. There’s nothing wrong with knowing sheng or any other local dialects other than your own. However, know your audience and what kind of image you would like to project.

In conclusion,  please check out this  slide show from Connect, a professional women’s network sponsored by Citibank that inspired me to write this post.  It’s about words we  assume are trendy but driving other people insane!  My personal favourite is bandwidth.

You can learn more about this group of great women on their LinkedIn page   and their awesome Slideshare page

Related links:

The rise of Globish.

Public Speaking 101 from the ever-resourceful TDM


2 thoughts on “Mind Your Language!

  1. Gibberish and buzz words can cause issues, but also how you use words says a lot about you.
    I have favorite words and since I wanted to better know myself and others, I joined – take a look, you might like that site.


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