Art by Gica Tam
Culture Spotlight

I’m saying noted to your noted

At which point in our utterly busy lives did the word turn boringly corporate?
Elbert Cuenca | Jan 09 2019

Noted.

Duly noted.

Well noted.

Sa Pilipinas lang ba ito ginagamit in a professional context?

I always thought that the use of “noted” as a reply was a simple way of saying “I heard you and let’s not discuss this any further because it’s not going to go anywhere nor am I going to do anything about it.”

It used to be a dismissive term.

Discuss.  

——

The above is a status I posted on my Facebook wall.

I did so because I had just received three successive emails using the term “noted” as a reply.

One was from my staff, after I had given instructions for an errand.

Another was from an equipment supplier, after I had submitted the specifications of my requirement.

And the third was from a luxury resort, after I had informed them that I had successfully paid for my booking with my credit card.

It got me thinking about how the word “noted” became an accepted professional term.

Although the origins of the use of the word are largely unknown, some online research revealed that I wasn’t alone in my view of the use of the term.

Question-and-answer website stackexchange.com had one query—“What does it mean when someone says “noted” to you?"—and many answers supported what I thought about it.

At the very least, it’s a short and sweet answer to mean “acknowledged.” Some try to make it sound more professional by adding words, such as “duly noted” or “well noted” or “noted with thanks.”

 While I am certain that the people who responded to me with “noted” didn’t mean it to be negative or dismissive, what irks me is how its use has become accepted to the point of being the norm.

To me, it’s become a lazy way of responding. It has also become a kind of trend, to the point that it’s oftentimes used inappropriately, or in a forced manner. It ends up being the thing you say because everybody else is saying it.

Take, for example, a supplier who texted my brother for his email address, so that the supplier could send his new (increased) price list. After my brother replied, instead of saying “thank you,” the supplier replied with “noted.”

As with any word, the tone of voice and the context of use will dictate its meaning. In the case above, my brother didn’t hear the person’s voice, and the usage was wrong. Was he noting receiving my brother’s email address with amusement? Glee? Wry, sardonic abandon? Was he noting it with approval?

I had to ask myself why I was so bothered by the abuse and misuse of “noted” as a reply. Perhaps I’m bugged by the laziness and the decline of professional communication. What’s wrong with the age-old “thank you,” or the youthful “got it!”?

I might also be upset that the word has lost its original meaning—something snarky, and dismissive, and deliciously so. Answering someone else’s diatribe with “noted,” meant roughly: “I hear you but it’s not worth it to invest in a reply.” Or “You gave me your view, but there will be no comment or further communication from me regarding the matter.”

The word was imbued with so much wry humor. When did it become so corporate—and furthermore, which boss started using the word wrong so that his minions followed suit and passed it on? I’m noting that guy’s “noted.” With tremendous judginess and quiet laughter.