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8 Comments

  1. 1

    Mandy Collins

    It’s amazing how resistant people can be to using plain language, especially in the corporate setting, where I’ve had occasion to run business writing courses from time to time. People honestly believe that if they write plainly, their writing will be inelegant, and unacceptable to those senior to them, because it’s not filled with all of the empty corporate phrases so beloved of business writing.

    I write the same way whether I’m penning a letter to an old friend, an e-mail to a colleague or client, a feature article or an academic essay. And even for the latter, there’s never any criticism of the writing (although the content is sometimes lacking!). It is more than possible to write plainly yet elegantly, and with your own personal style – in any setting. And your reader will thank you for it.

  2. 2

    Llewellyn Kriel

    As always an elegant and, might I add, almost demur reminder, Caryn. I must confess I often overwrite – just as I waffle way too much when talking. Maybe there’s a Cartesian “evil demon” in me that distrusts my readers’/listeners’ abilities to understand. And here the discipline drummed into one by membership of Toastmasters International is nonpareil. In competitive speaking competitions even ONE second over your allotted 7:30 minutes and you’re instantly  disqualified – especially at the World Championships!

    By the same measure, the twinned arts of listening and reading are seldom encountered – especially in SA.

  3. 3

    Gus Silber

    Thanks, Caryn! Isn’t it funny how people who work in the insurance industry always overwrite, even when they’re underwriting.

  4. 4

    Cheryl Stephens

    Writing with sensitivity is a nice idea; I have conceptualized as being respectful of my reader.

  5. 5

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    I like that – sensitivity to both the words and your reader. Thanks, Cheryl. 

  6. 6

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    As always, Gus, you have a way with words. That is one of the worst industries. I may investigate a little deeper into how they use overwriting to escape their underwriting obligations. 

  7. 7

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    I love the analogy of timed speaking contests. It is often harder to eliminate the unnecessary when speaking. I’d love to hear you compete… 

  8. 8

    Caryn Gootkin (in other words)

    I am working on a column on business jargon as the arch rival of plain language. As you can imagine, it is bulging at the seams. 

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