Plain Language Movement

Plain Language Movement

The Plain Language Movement is an effort to eliminate overly complex language from academia, government, law, and business.

The two international organizations in the movement are
* Plain Language Association International, (PLAIN), formerly the Plain Language Consultants Network, founded in Vancouver, Canada.cite web |url= |title=The Plain Language Association INternational (PLAIN): Your Portal to Clear Writing |accessdate=2008-02-05 |format= |work=]
* Clarity, an international association promoting plain legal language, formerly described as "the movement to simplify legal English", based in England.cite web |url= |title=Welcome to Clarity |accessdate=2008-02-05 |format= |work=]

PLAIN operates a listserve on plain language which has nearly 500 subscribers. With others, PLAIN has hosted 4 international conferences at which programs and practices have been shared and popularized. Many of the papers delivered are available on the PLAIN website.

Organizations that have endorsed plain language--from The Legal Writing Institute to the Canadian Bar Association and Canadian Bankers Association. cite web |url= |title=Plain Language Organizations |accessdate=2008-09-13 |format= |work=]

The Center for Plain Language is a nonprofit, US tax-exempt membership organization, promoting the use of plain language in the public and private sectors. The Plain Language Information and Action Network is a US government-wide group of volunteers working to improve communications from the federal government to the public. The two organizations co-hosted the 2005 international PLAIN conference, Nov. 3-6 in Washington, D.C.


The movement focuses attention on the information needs and the reading abilities of the reader and opposes writer-based prose, which is the tendency to use long sentences, jargon, and a formal style as a way to acquire authority, power, and credibility.

William Lutz, an American linguist specialising in doublespeak and the use of plain language, asserts that

"language is power, period. The lesson of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is that those who rule the language, rule... The language of the lawyers, of the politicians, of the intelligentsia, is supposed to make [others] feel inferior."
Lutz cites also the inability of Three Mile Island and "Challenger" decision makers to comprehend warnings in vague engineering jargon using odd acronyms.


ee also

*Plain English
*Plain English Campaign
*Plain language
*Legal writing

External links

* [ Revisiting Plain Language, Beth Mazur]
* [ Plain language: gone underground?, Christine Mowat]
* [ Plain language around the world, Michele Asprey]
* [ PLAIN Plain Language Association International]
* [ Essay: Why not "Plain English"?]
* [ Clarity]
* [ The European Commission Translation Service Fight the Fog Campaign]
* [ The American Plain Language Action and Information Network]
* [ Center for Plain Language]
* [ The Swedish Government's Plain Swedish office]

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