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December 05, 2012

Clear Writing And Simple Spelling

Ever read a document, or see a contract that did not make a shred of sense, even though...

...you knew every word in the sentence?

Somehow some documents are so complicated - or use words in such a specific way - that, even when you know the definition of every word, the whole statement is incomprehensible.

There is an organization that tries to get businesses and agencies to write their statements in clear and understandable language.

In fact they even give awards for the most improved message. The name is The Center for Plain Language and you can see their website here - http://centerforplainlanguage.org/.

These are basic principles of clear and concise writing that should be used by all of us.

Here is a short excerpt from the website;

"The Basic Approach specifies and considers who will use it, why they will use it, and what tasks they will do with it. Consider if the basic approach:

Identifies the audiences and is clearly created for them.
Focuses on the major audiences and their top questions and tasks.
Does not try to be everything to everyone."

I try to be as clear, simple and direct as possible. The alternative can be quite horrifying - for example, have you ever taken a close look at your cell phone contract?

If it is the words that baffle you - either spoken or written - you might want to make sure they are either spelled or pronounced correctly. Here is a very basic website which may help you with both of these areas. Many words in English are spelled the way they are pronounced - but some are not.

Good luck figuring out how to pronounce words like pinocle, recipe or knife.

This website for all ages should help - http://www.spellzone.com/.

I confess to being an unrepentant word nerd, and I love the many possibilities and contradictions in a language as flexible and fluid as English - especially the always-unpredictable American version.

Send us any words or phrases that make you crazy and be sure to let us know what it is about English and language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.

Morf

Posted by mmorf at December 5, 2012 08:08 PM

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