matters when it comes to choosing the right word. Graham Hopkins sings the
praises of the commonplace.
daft, but it’s true: it’s very difficult to write simply. Social care writing
is full of big words and it’s time we cut them down to size. There are many
things at play here, not least being our need to demonstrate (or, indeed,
"show") how knowledgeable we are.
in a pompous, bureaucratic way, we convince ourselves, somehow proves we are
good at our job.
means we end up writing words we would never say. Words like
"ascertain". We would never say, "Can I look in your paper to
ascertain what’s on TV tonight?" We’d say, "find out". To
communicate more clearly, particularly with those outside of the profession, it
is better to use shorter, everyday words.
instead of writing "should you require further assistance" prefer
"if you need more help". Also, why write "clients have
appropriate access to the documentation maintained about them" when
"clients can see their own files" does the job nicely?
restricts a decent list, but here’s a taster of simpler alternatives: adjacent
– next to; approximately – about, nearly, almost; appropriate – proper, right;
commence or initiate -begin, start; contains – has; documentation – records,
paperwork; entitlement – right; factual inaccuracies – mistakes, errors;
henceforth – from now on; implemented – carried out; in lieu of – instead of;
lacking in clarity – unclear; pro-forma – form; proprietor – owner; regarding –
about; retain – keep; subsequent – after, next, later; utilise – use.
the world walked by social and health care inspection reports, for example, it
is seemingly the law that medication (not "medicine", mind) is
"administered" and never "given"; records are
"maintained" and never "kept" (how many
"record-maintaining" courses do you see advertised?); while managers
"state" things and never "say" them. And did you know that
nothing ever happens "before" an inspection, it all happens
"prior to" one?
linguist Theodore Bernstein had a real problem with "prior to" – not
only is it one more word than "before" and more pompous, but, he
says, you should only use "prior to" for "before" if you
would use "posterior to" for "after".
really is all right to have small words; it’s what you do with them that
counts. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, endeavour, endeavour
speaking, social workers must avoid using jargon and collonialisms";
"Eye contact and smile promote a positive aroma"; "My feeling
during the exercise was one of venerability"; "I felt de-skilled,
confused and impudent"
to Clare Seymour, senior lecturer in social work, Anglia Polytechnic University.
is a process rooted in the foundations of individual empowerment. It recognises
that interdependence is a key attribute in achieving a sense of self and
alliance. Advocacy therefore aims to secure ‘diverse solutions for diverse
needs’ by applying the tenets of self-definition, equality and assistance for
all people, in their time of need, in ways that they choose"
Thanks to Marian Smith. From a
Joseph Rowntree Foundation briefing paper.
send in examples of jargon, management-speak, and gobbledygook to firstname.lastname@example.org