Taking sides in politics based on how a candidate speaks is nothing new, it turns out. In “Founding Grammars,” Rosemarie Ostler looks at how U.S. politicians used formal or informal language, while regular Americans turned to grammar books to improve their station in life.
Words matter. Every communication that you send—e-mails, letters, reports—influences others’ impressions of you, for better or for worse. We keep this in mind when we’re interviewing for jobs, but we tend to become less careful over time. We’re busy, we’re working quickly, and maybe we don’t have someone on hand to run an eye over our words before they go out into the world.