The grades say it is…mostly.
As we do every year, the Center reviewed agencies’ plain language programs and some writing samples for the annual Federal Report Card, released today, November 17. Representative Dave Loebsack announced the results.
When you search for something on the web, do you search for clinical terms and technology? Or do you think about a problem you need solved?
If you’re like most people, you think about your problems in plain language.
You’re more likely to search for “Do I have poison ivy?” than “Have I suffered exposure to toxicodendron radicans?”
That’s why it’s important to keep natural, everyday questions in mind when you’re creating content for the web.
In 2012, with the support of a Legal Services Corporation grant, LawNY (Legal Aid of Western New York) and Transcend (a language services company) offered a 10-week interactive online course, Plain Language Seminar for Lawyers.
Twenty lawyers from court systems and legal aid agencies across the nation signed up to learn more about plain language and to receive individual guidance with their active drafting projects.
Here are some of the questions posed during this class.
One of my professional roles is to teach legal writing. And in spite of what you might think, most of us who teach legal writing try to teach law students to use plain language (to some degree or another). But term after term, I’m dismayed at the final assignments’ lack of plain language. So what’s standing in the way? I’ve identified 5 obstacles here, although I’m sure there are others. Whether you’re a plain-language coach, some other kind of teacher, or someone who’s just trying to get people to climb on the plain-language train, maybe some of the suggestions here will help. Although some of them focus on legal writing, I’m sure you can draw analogies to your own field.
Author – Steven Pinker
[Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal with the author’s permission]
Why is so much writing so bad? Why is it so hard to understand a government form, or an academic article or the instructions for setting up a wireless home network?
The most popular explanation is that opaque prose is a deliberate choice. Bureaucrats insist on gibberish to cover their anatomy.