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Plain English (sometimes referred to more broadly as plain language) is a generic term for communication styles that emphasise clarity, brevity and the avoidance of technical language.

Plain English is written in a manner appropriate to the reading skills and knowledge of its audience. It is writing that has no confusion about meaning, is free of cliché and unnecessary jargon, and is easy to understand.

Good Plain English writing easily imparts knowledge to an audience unfamiliar with the in-house language and knowledge of the writer.

Various campaigns and movements have promoted the cause of “Plain English” in the US and UK since the 1970s. Particular areas of focus are official documents and publications, and the language of Law.

The late Professor David Mellinkoff (of UCLA School of Law) is widely credited with singlehandedly launching the Plain English movement in American law with the 1963 publication of The Language of the Law.[1]

In 1976, the Paperwork Reduction Act was introduced in the US.[2] In 1979, Richard Wydick published Plain English for Lawyers.

In the UK, The Plain English campaign has been campaigning since 1979, "against gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information. We have helped many government departments and other official organisations with their documents, reports and publications. We believe that everyone should have access to clear and concise information."[3]

The UK government now promotes the "use of Plain English" and offer advice to those who draft official documents and policy.[4]

Contents

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Wydick, Richard C. (1979) Plain English for Lawyers Carolina Academic Press, ISBN 1-59460-151-8 (paperback 5th ed., 2005)
  • Rook, Fern Slaying the English Jargon (1992) Society for Technical Communication, ISBN 0-914548-71-9
  • Williams, Joseph M. Style, Toward Clarity and Grace (1995) University Of Chicago Press, ISBN 0-226-89915-2

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