During the week I received my copy of Communication World or CW, the magazine of the International Association of Business Communicators. The back page opinion column was a tongue-in-cheek piece about whether it is correct to use the word communication or communications in relation to my profession.
I laughed when I read it, because my first job in PR 15 years ago was with a consultancy called MACRO Communication, which no longer exists. The directors insisted (and I do agree with them in principle) that communication refers to the process of communicating which is what our jobs are all about, while communications refers to the technology or medium used to convey messages – as in telecommunications. Then I moved to a new company, Howorth Communications, which did include the ‘s’ on the end. I didn’t agree with it but after saying it for a while, I really didn’t care which one was used. That’s how it is with a lot of word usage complaints. Neither is incorrect, language use is flexible and constantly changing, get over it.
That’s really the point that Gerard Braud who wrote the opinion column in CW was making. He notes that academics are actually arguing about this stuff. Proofreaders had vehemently removed the ‘s’ when he’d used it in articles. He was expecting to receive ‘ugly e-mails’ (email or e-mail – there’s another one) from readers about it. But as he says, “In the big picture of our world, we have greater things with which to be concerned.”