Little Plain Language Progress

Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt at M-W.COM
Sat May 8 22:03:09 UTC 1999

I wonder what the criteria would be for language that was adequately
"plain".  Is there a set of guidelines or maybe even requirements for what
is called "plain English"?  Is syntax considered or only vocabulary?  And
who would be the judge of the success or failure of a given simplified
document?  Maybe this could be a whole new career for -- whom?  English or
linguistics majors?


Victoria Neufeldt, Merriam-Webster, Inc.
47 Federal Street, P.O. Box 281
Springfield, MA  01102
Tel. (413) 734-3134 ext 124
Fax  (413) 827-7262

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at]On Behalf Of
> Grant Barrett
> Sent: Saturday, May 01, 1999 7:55 AM
> To: ADS-L at
> Subject: Little Plain Language Progress
> A summary of progress in Al Gore's plain language crusade, from the San
> Francisco Chronicle.
> 04/27/MN8454.DTL
> "At worst, the effort seems quixotic; at best, it's a darn good idea,
> according to just about everybody. (With exceptions such as most
> lawyers and
> almost all accountants, who don't believe in the use of synonyms.) At
> Gore's urging, President Clinton signed an executive memorandum
> last June that
> requires federal bureaucrats to simplify written communications. By 2002,
> all new and old federal documents, most penned by lawyers, are supposed
> to be written in so-called plain language.
> "But there is not much enforcement muscle behind the memo, except that
> Gore likes it. "
> Grant Barrett
> gbarrett at

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