Wednesday, August 17, 2005

London calling

Having spent part of the week tinkering around with the insides of this website, I'm feeling all kind of technical. And this week's language radar scan brought a new survey to my attention, one that focuses on language and technology. Oh, the serendipity of the universe...

Anyway, this survey is reported with great glee in The Register, first link below, making the most of the fact that one of the findings is that Londoners appear to behave differently in their use of email at work to people in other regions. The writer reports these findings in Mockney, a Jamie Oliver "pukka geezer" pseudo language variety only used by people whose idea of the East End is Michael Caine circa 1967. But that aside, the findings make curious reading, with differences also noted according to gender and age. Some of these are yawningly obvious - younger employeess are apparently more likely to send emails they later regret than older people. But some are quite intriguing - 5% of males but only 1% of females admit to emailing their company's intellectual property to other people. It's the sort of survey that makes me go "hmm, I want to know more".

So, check out the second link, which will take you to the press release of the company that commissioned the survey. Ah, well, wouldn't you know it - commissioned by a company specialising in corporate IT security. Good marketing idea, that - do a survey that shows how "dangerous" employees' habits are, and then flog software to spy on us and policies to sack us for it. But putting that teensy weensy bit of research bias aside, the press release gives some useful information about the size of the sample and that it was conducted online. Useful in pointing up how methodologically flawed much of the "research" quoted in daily life is. Here, facts are being asserted about corporate email use when about a third of the survey respondents were not email users in current employment.

But the fact that it is flawed and biased make this MORE interesting, because now I want to know how much truth there is in the claims that are being made. Though it would be a challenge to get hold of, I'd like to see actual language use in this context rather just people's perceptions of how they use it. I'm curious to know whether the "sneaky, foul-mouthed and malicious" Londoners are only using more "foul language" than Northerners in their emails, or whether it's a more general language consequence of living in the capital. Or maybe they're just more honest about it in surveys?... So, could some of you guys get on to that and let me know the answers?....

And as a Londoner (though neither Cockney nor Mockney, sneaky or malicious) Clearswift needn't think they're getting a Christmas card from me now...

Cockney suits abuse f**king email

Email users behaving badly…especially in the capital


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