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Want to learn to write badly? Then go to university!

The multi-syllabled pomposity and obscurity of much academic writing, particularly in the social sciences, often attracts derision and damnation. The contempt has generally come from outside the campus. But here’s a surprise: Michael Billig, professor of social sciences at Loughborough University no less, has written an insider’s demolition of his colleagues’ writing. His Learn how to write badly: how to succeed in the social sciences rounds up the usual suspects: jargon, acronyms, passives, and using five pound words when five pence ones would do (but, strangely, neglects the long sentences and page long paragraphs). In particular, he condemns the constant turning of verbs into nouns: ‘beware of long words ending in –ization and –ification’ and ‘write about people not things’ Billig wisely advises. He quotes some of the worst academic writing and, sometimes, names the perpetrators. Billig tears apart the arguments put forward in defence of the ‘academic style’ and exposes the inhumanity and subconscious elitism that often underlies it.

Read more: Want to learn to write badly? Then go to university!

Plain English Campaign declares the death of local democracy

Plain English Campaign officials are currently reporting on a wave of protests regarding attempts at consultations on local development plans.

‘From Dundee to Derbyshire, we are receiving complaints from people who feel their right to a democratic voice has been taken away’ says campaign founder Chrissie Maher.

Read more: Plain English Campaign declares the death of local democracy

NHS communications in poor health

Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, has rightly savaged NHS Greater Manchester’s hideous and gobbledygook-ridden ‘Healthier Together: Strategic Direction Case’ document.

Mr Stringer describes the paper as “tripe dissolved in twaddle” and goes on to deride it as “the most incomprehensible, opaque and jargon-ridden document I have read in the last 30 years.”

He adds: “The person who wrote it should be sent on a plain English course immediately, unless of course the whole intention was to keep secret the intent to make cuts.”

Perhaps this is the case?

Read more: NHS communications in poor health

Apostrophe lives to fight again as Plain English Campaign forces rethink

Mid Devon District Council leaders have been forced to reconsider banning the apostrophe from street signs in the area.

Plain English Campaign was swift to praise the council for its ‘brave’ decision to reconsider the issue.

‘It‘s a victory for common sense,’ claimed jubilant Plain English Campaign founder Chrissie Maher. ‘You do have to question the good sense of anyone who thinks that confusion can be avoided by messing around with the rules of our language.’

Read more: Apostrophe lives to fight again as Plain English Campaign forces rethink

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