Plain English is, by definition, clear to the intended reader. This clarity has a positive impact on efficiency, productivity and customer relations. Famously, plain English also saves money for the organizations with a plain English culture—often hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Given the facts, you'd think every organization in the world would be keen to promote plain language in all their internal and external communications. Not so: I'm afraid plain English is the opposite of sexy. The very phrase 'plain English' suggests something dowdy and dull.
The average person, if quizzed about the meaning, imagines plain English means dumbing down into words of one syllable. Plenty consider themselves too smart for plain English.
It can be a lonely old business, a thankless task, promoting the very real benefits of clear writing in government, business, technical documentation and the professions.
To the rescue of the communications Cinderella—the Writemark New Zealand Plain English Awards. These high prestige awards draw attention to excellent writing in the public and private sector.
Three interesting categories:
- Best plain English sentence transformation
- People's choice awards, including the Brainstrain awards for gobbledegook.
- Plain English financial documents. Woo-hoo, great idea!
Enter now. No glass slipper required.
Check out the Contented business writing courses: brilliant online courses for brainy people. You'll be amazed at just how exciting plain English can be.
Image: Cinderella, painted by Sir John Everett Millais
Aug 24, 2011 • Posted by Alistair McAlpine
In some cases complicated language is used in an attempt to project value or justify cost.
Writing that seems to state the obvious and make plain sense? “I could have worked that out for myself”.
Difficult to unravel and complicated? “I can see why you’re charging an arm and a leg”.
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