[lg policy] Why the government can't write in plain English

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Apr 18 14:42:25 UTC 2012

Why the government can't write in plain English:

Leon Neyfakh on the "plain language movement" in public policy -- a
movement to abolish "bureaucratese" and replace it with
regular-sounding English. "When the IRS, the EPA, the FDA, and the CDC
speak in incomprehensible gobbledygook, it amounts to a genuine threat
to democracy." The cause has been taken up by President Obama -- but
"sometimes, it turns out, language has a purpose besides
communication. The complexity of federal rules may not be just a
reflection of bad style, but a direct and possibly unavoidable result
of how our government works." (As someone who taught writing at a
policy school for a few years, I have to say that I'm on the plain
language side.)


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