We’ve all felt the frustration of filling out an online comment card that looks like it was created by someone who had never seen the website you want to comment on in the first place. “Have a Comment?” the site asks enthusiastically. You click on the digital Comment Card link. The page opens, and you scan for the options that most closely match your feedback. It’s not there.
As plain language experts, we often tell clients to use positive language. Even when explaining a negative situation, we recommend using as few negative words as possible. Many of us use this guidelines based on marketing strategies. However, we now have science to back us up.
The first time I heard a guy in a suit say, “We need to open the kimono” I screamed like a genteel Victorian and averted my eyes. I hadn’t heard this bit of business jargon before and was expecting the worst. Apparently, this colorful phrase simply means to “reveal information.” Phew. No kimonos were literally opened. (Look. It’s fun to use “literally” accurately.)
I happen to love interesting and unusual phrases.
What if the universal precautions approach to health literacy really were universal?
Modeled after medicine’s universal precautions approach to infection control that treats all bodily fluids as they were infectious, this health literacy strategy is well accepted as one that improves communication: Assume it’s hard for all patients to understand health information and to use the health care system.
“People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.” This quote by William Butler Yeats, one of Ireland’s most famous writers, illustrates a problem we have in the plain language community. We create a multitude of written material, but we rely primarily on logical structures, […]