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Straight talking?

March 18, 2009

The Local Government Association today published a list of 200 words that public bodies should not use if they want to communicate effectively with people.  

The Local Government Association list, which has been sent to councils across the country, sets out 200 words and phrases that all public sector bodies should avoid when talking to people about the work they do and the services they provide.  

Unless people working in the public services talk to people in a language that they can understand the work they do can become inaccessible. Councils are worried that this will reduce the chances of people getting help during the recession. 

The people that work at Regeneration East Midlands want to communicate clearly to everyone. In answer to the question “So, what does REM do?” we have a very simple answer, “We help people to make better places”.   

We want to be clear when we talk to people about our work, and when we write about it, but gobbledegook and acronyms – like pernicious weeds, pop up all over the place. 

The only way to get a step change to the challenge we face is through increasing our capacity to utilise Plain English going forward.
Damn….quick – where’s the flame gun!  

Click here for the press release and full list of jargon words.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. Hazel Mitchell permalink
    March 18, 2009 12:39 pm

    Straight, direct and concise language is all very well but it can be incredibly boring.

    Our primary means of communication is through the written word. We need to grab people’s attention and keep them interested. Exploiting the variety and richness of the English language is one of the most important tools we have available to us.

    What are dictionaries for?

  2. Janet permalink
    March 18, 2009 1:29 pm

    I agree, it does not have to be boring, a lot can be achieved with a well-turned phrase or sentence. To my mind (or for my mind) the best comedians use language to its full potential. Eddie Izzard being one of my favourites.

    I am a Thesaurus fan. Not sure if I wanted to ‘come out’ with that online!

  3. Warren Pearce permalink*
    March 18, 2009 3:42 pm

    Hazel, that’s a fair point but ultimately we need to speak in language that people understand. IMHO the LGA list is a little mixed – there are plenty of horrible words on there (rebaselining? downstream?) which can be eradicated (or perhaps ‘not used any more’). Others arguably have a unique meaning (paradigm, coterminous) but many people won’t know.

    It’s a fine line between using the variety of English and someone having to use the dictionary to decipher the meaning. Perhaps it all depends on your audience…

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