The Plain English Movement - will it ever catch on?

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Thomas, Jul 16, 2011.

  1. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    I start a new class this week: Technical Writing. The first reading assignment comes from the SEC: A Plain English Handbook - How to create clear SEC disclosure documents. It's pretty easy reading, sensible in its recommendations, and I started to think...hey, this could seriously catch on.

    Then I realized that one of the names on the document was Chairman Arthur Leavitt (not Former Chairman), and then I checked the date: August 1998, and my spirits fell. Of the scores of reports I've casually read over the past few years, pretty well every one used four words where one would suffice. I don't think Plain English has caught on, thus far - but how about the future?

    What do you think? Will Plain English ever catch on?
     


  2. willpower

    willpower Senior member

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    Not a chance. It would require thinking. People don't know the difference between "lose" and "loose" or "your" and "you're".
     


  3. Eason

    Eason Bicurious Racist

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    Good academic writers will always be succinct. People who try and replace substance with flash will always be long-winded and circuitous.
     


  4. crazyquik

    crazyquik Senior member

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    Eason has been succint, but let me be long-winded and circuitous.

    There is a viscious cycle in academic writing. Academic writing is judged by academics and grad students. Neither group wants to say they are 'too dumb' to understand what you wrote, that it is vague, ambiguous, or lacks clarity. If non-academic writing is is incomprehensible, it is a failure and rejected by the readers. If academic writing can't be comprehended, the reader is the failure (and may end up dressed down by the professor).

    Legal writing is somewhere in between, and the 'plain english in legal writing' movement is very big. Personally, I love reading a florid Cardozo opinion. However, most writers would be better off to mimic the clear and basic style of Holmes.
     


  5. cretaceous_cretin

    cretaceous_cretin Senior member

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    Add to this list "there" and "their" and "they're" that are frequently misused. Most people could use a refresher course in writing, including me. Intelligent writing is becoming a lost art, unfortunately.
     


  6. Costanza

    Costanza Senior member

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    +++1
     


  7. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    One of the more despair-worthy moments came in class on Monday when the instructor revealed that grammar and punctuation were going to be focuses of the course. Holy Cow I learned that in grade school, what do you mean we have to cover all that again!?!?!@# Jeez.
     


  8. VelvetGreen

    VelvetGreen Senior member

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    I bought an Anglepoise lamp today. The instructions referred to an 'Allan key' and compliance with EU 'Directions'.
     


  9. Harold falcon

    Harold falcon Senior member

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    its / it’s

    Seriously, if people can't learn the difference between those two words then there is no hope for humanity.
     


  10. Thomas

    Thomas Senior member

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    Between this and not being able to buy booze on the internet, I'm starting to think the endtimes are near.
     


  11. AnotherOne

    AnotherOne Member

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    Grammatical errors aside, I think legal compliance is a huge part of the problem. What should be a short sentence often becomes a long and convoluted paragraph once all the silly but apparently necessary disclaimers are included.
     


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