Use Technical Terms
(1995:25) also identifies the fear that if a person writes in Plain
English, they may not be regarded as being ‘eminent, scientific or
Conversely, Collinson (et al 1993: 85) ascertains that it is
perfectly acceptable to use technical terms. They are required by
specialist writers to make a specific point to the reader.
Therefore it is not necessarily wrong to use technical terms in an
riddled with techno gobbledegook can change from
Undue attachment to the thesis that inflation is the result solely
of institutional factors might cause the contribution made to
inflation by excess demand to be neglected and the existence of
excess demand to be prolonged
(Collinson et al 1992: 85)
more reader friendly version as per the campaign’s advice to use
technical terms sparingly i.e.
Inflation is caused not only by institutional factors but also by
excess demand. Unless we recognise this and act on it, excess
demand is likely to continue
al 1993: 85).
communicative impairments discussed so far, are merely
inconveniences when compared to, what is possibly, the complete
opposite to Plain English. By this, I am referring to jargon.
Collinson (et al 1992: 83) identifies jargon as ‘ugly-sounding and
difficult to understand’. The meaning of the message is completely
obscured by excessive use of technical language.
example includes the following by Sir Ernest Gowers
Manpower ceilings are a very blunt macro-instrument and will be
either ineffective or unduly restrictive if not based on the results
of management reviews and other ‘micro’ activities …ceilings are
biting, but this is what they were meant to do
(cited in Collinson et al
message is unclear but could be interpreted as
An overall restriction on manpower should only be applied when all
details of the situation have been fully considered. Restrictions
will force changes, but this is what they were meant to do
(Collinson et al 1992:83).
Plain English Campaign (2008) have identified the legal industry as
one of the most frequent perpetrators of jargon. However, Cutts
(1995: 8) has identified the industry’s successful use of Plain
English by ascertaining that ‘no company that has issued a plain
English insurance policy, pension contract or bank guarantee has
ever reverted to a traditional legalistic style of wording’.
Conversely, Crystal (2003: 374) questions the feasibility of ‘a
simplified, universally intelligible legal English’. While he
accepts the prospect is appealing, he believes it would be foolish
to completely abolish such an established legal language. Those who
wish to do so, i.e. The Plain English Campaign, most likely do not
appreciate the full extent of its function.
(2003: 174) also concludes that everyone uses jargon and that it is
not always a negative aspect of language. Jargon is woven into many
occupations, sports and social groups. It can help a person to show
their professional awareness and ‘know-how’, and can aid social
togetherness between colleagues through the use of ‘shop-talk’.
Many people also take pleasure in using jargon when it relates to a
hobby, interest or joke and this is not to confuse or catch-out the
listener or reader.
by the Plain English Campaign’s advice does not always result in
fool proof communication. Such is the case with an infamous speech
made by Donald
As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we
know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know
there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown
unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know
(cited on Chubarov c. 2009).
Technically, the words are clear and simple and the sentences are
short. The difficulty in deciphering the meaning arises because of
the speech’s use of repetition. The speaker has also bombarded the
listener with several consecutive points instead of making one or
two. This results in an overloaded speech, albeit thought
conclusion, Plain English has made huge improvements to the clarity
of various documents. This, in turn, has helped ordinary people to
gain better access to ‘benefits and services, justice and a fair
deal’ (Cutts 1995: 8). Plain English allows people to better
understand what they are asked to read and sign, therefore they can
make choices and decisions on an informed basis. Straight forward
language has become an integral part of correspondence ‘between
consumers and business’, and also between ‘citizens and the State’ (Cutts