Being a wannabe writer I find myself on a training course on writing for the web. Imagine my delight – having struggled with “findability”, news aggregation sites and the notion of social media consumption and why I should be spending hours on social networking because everyone’s doing it (I’m not) – when we come to a part of the course called “Plain English”.
What a blessing then to find this in the writing for the web workbook: “The Plain English Campaign’s principles for clear written communication are cited by many charities as requisite for optimum accessibility.”
Requisite for optimum accessibility?
And, joyously, it didn’t end there. We also had: “The principles have been adopted as a kind of default setting for clear language.
“Plain English does not mean text that is amateurish, simplistic, reductive or grammatically prescriptive.”
A couple of useful plain English tips were “avoid nominalisations (they are unwieldy nouns)” and “negative constructions are unfriendly”. Yeah about as unfriendly as writing “negative constructions are unfriendly”.
Thanks to readers for the following.
Adam Booker, a head teacher in Lincolnshire, who attends some “crackin’ meetings”, got in touch: “Some excellent jargon I have heard: ‘In-flight design’ – the ability for managers to mess around with plans mid way through a job – or ‘process’ as it is now called. And ‘scoping out’ (sounds awful doesn’t it) – the process of exploring an idea.”
An anonymous Jargonaut writes: “In response to your request for jargon, one of the best examples I hear all the time is to give people a ‘heads up’. I have been able to deduce what this means from analysing the frequency and context with which it is used. Simply put, this is to give somebody advance notice of an issue, problem or course of action.”
Finally, I have been sent a copy of a standard insurance letter sent out by the Royal and Sun Alliance. At the bottom of the letter in capital letters (which makes it more difficult to read) and bold (ditto) was this:
“IN LINE WITH GUIDELINES LAID DOWN UNDER THE DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION ACT, WE ARE BOUND TO ADVISE YOU THAT IF YOU ARE DISABLED AND HAVE DIFFICULTY READING THIS LETTER WE WILL MAKE ALTERNATIVE ARRANGEMENTS TO REISSUE THIS COMMUNICATION IN A MORE APPROPRIATE FORMAT. PLEASE CALL OUR CUSTOMER HELPLINE ON 0845 6060290 IF THIS IS THE CASE.”
Do please keep your examples coming. Or if you are a disabled reader: DO PLEASE KEEP YOUR EXAMPLES COMING!