It used to be that we wrote actual letters. Then we started e-mailing, which naturally caused us to write less formally. And now we text and IM, which has encouraged us to write even more informally (some might not call it writing at all). You can argue that a lot has been lost in this evolution but I want to comment on just one thing that’s been lost: syllables.
I'm not talking about lol and other typical online conventions. But increasingly, in business correspondence – especially in e-mail – people are writing convo instead of conversation, reco instead of recommendation, bc instead of because, que instead of question, vm instead of voicemail, u instead of you, mtg instead of meeting, and on and on.
The issue here is severalfold.
First, despite there being fewer letters, half-baked abbreviations like this can make your words harder to understand. Not everyone is going to immediately get that vm means voicemail. It forces people to stop and start as they go, and that makes reading unpleasant.
Second, even when these things aren’t unintelligible, they’re actually sort of disrespectful. They imply that you don’t think it’s worth your time or effort to tap out those few extra letters. And really, how much time and effort does it take to type convo versus conversation? If you are actually too busy to type entire words, then you need to have a heart-to-heart with your manager. There’s a work/life balance problem that needs attention.
Third, with all due respect, it’s just sort of jerky and sophomoric. Writing e-mail to colleagues and clients and others with whom you do business is not the same as texting your friends or passing notes in chem lab.
Good writers take into account the form in which they are writing, the place in which they are writing, the circumstances under which they are writing, the person to whom they are writing, and the person on behalf of whom they may be writing. No one’s asking that we return to the Queen’s English, but it’s not too much to ask that we say what we mean and spell it out when we say it.