The other day, I read something so interesting in Speaker Magazine! It’s about how our English language is very different from Asian languages. Since I’m a wordsmith (what else could you call a professional ghost blogger?), the ways in which different people use words, especially for doing business, is something I find fascinating.
The article was called “Writing for Global Audiences”, and the writer, Dr. Kathleen Begley, was advising professional speakers to be careful when communicating with people from other countries. She explained that English has twelve different tenses. As an example, she gave the following: “Today, I speak. Yesterday, I spoke. I had spoken the day before yesterday. Tomorrow, I will speak.” And (an example of a tense called future perfect conditional), “By 3 PM, I will have been giving this speech for thirty minutes.” Asian speakers, Begley explained, would use only one tense for all of these: “Today I speak. Yesterday, I speak. Tomorrow, I speak. By 3 PM, I speak for 30 minutes.”
A couple of things about the use of language in blogging come to mind. I’m always mentioning that blog writing is much more informal and conversational than other forms of business writing. But, as I tried to bring out in In Blogging, Keep The Love, But Lose The “Like”!, this is your business and your brand you’re putting out there with your blog. You always want to be sure that poor grammar and misspelled words aren’t distracting readers and taking away from the impact of your message. Granted, 99.99% of business bloggers (and of their blog readers, I might add) wouldn’t so much as recognize the existence of the future perfect conditional tense. I’ll bet, though, a few might be put off by shoddy spelling and lesser-grade grammar. ,”The devil is in the details”, may be true of blogging for business, along with the one about “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
Back to the subject of English language tenses..In blogging it’s important to maintain consistency and frequency, since both of these are measures search engines use in ranking your blog. “I used to blog”, “I once was blogging”, or “I had been blogging but I’m not blogging now” – none of these are phrases likely to capture respect in online rankings. To “win search”, you’ll need to be saying “Yesterday I blogged. Today I blog. Tomorrow I will blog, and, by next year, I will have been blogging for a year and half.” By that time, you should be able to add, “And, I have been winning search!”