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10 Comments

  1. 1

    Mandy Collins

    Well said. People often confuse plain English with a lack of eloquence – I recently encountered this  again at a business writing course I was teaching. The key is always to use the right word, and use it correctly, never to use two or more words when one will do, and to write with the aim of making your writing comprehensible, not opaque or confusing. Simple can be very, very eloquent.

  2. 2

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    I hate it when people equate plain language with ‘dumbing down’. It is anything but. It takes a creative mind to state a deep thought in simple terms. 

  3. 3

    plainlanguagefan

    so would that not mean that it is only necessary to use “very” once as an example of why use two words when one will do :)

  4. 4

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    No, repetition for effect is acceptable. Even in plain language.

  5. 5

    Tamara Oberholster

    So true! I view lots of my work as a journalist as “translation” – taking jargon-laden content from an expert and translating it into something that the average Joe can understand and enjoy. It’s not “dumbing down”, but finding the golden thread and helping others to follow it. If that makes sense?

  6. 6

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    It’s makes perfect sense. People often hide behind big words and complicated sentences hoping the reader will be fooled into believing they know what they are talking about. 

  7. 7

    Shelagh

    I love it! One of my favourite quotes on the topic is from Stephen King: “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” :) As you mention, it depends what you are writing, but many people could benefit from the “less is more” ideal you put forward.

  8. 8

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    Thanks for reminding me of that Stephen King gem. Words like ‘totally’ and ‘absolutely’ are completely (!) overused. 

  9. 9

    Nick

    The StyleWriter editing software from http://www.editorsoftware.com shows anyone how to follow these golden rules.  It has a thesaurus of complex to simple words, cuts out 20 percent of words from most documents, helps switch passive verbs to active verbs and even flags your jargon.  It comes with the recommendation of the Plain Language Commission.  You can see demos and get a free 14-day trial copy from the website.

    Nick

  10. Pingback: Verbal detox™ – the shortest cut of all - In Other Words

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