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Plain English campaign news articles

Calling for your government gobbledygook!

Tax returns, benefit claim forms, passport forms - all government documents created to help us..... or drive us mad!

We want your good, bad and downright ugly examples of government documents.

Read more: Calling for your government gobbledygook!

Liverpool well-rooted in plain English

Plain English Campaign have been packing their bags in excitement, ready for a return to their roots in Liverpool to celebrate the Capital of Culture. The exhibition at Liverpool Town Hall will be opened by Lord Mayor Steve Rotheram with VIP guest John Barnes and other guest involvement from local musicians Young Kof and MC Inferno, and authors, Lucy van Amerongen, Caroline Taggart, Steve Colgan, and Peter Grant who all acknowledge the benefits of the appropriate message for the intended audience.

Public viewing of the exhibition will take place from Tuesday 21 October. Plain English Campaign are encouraging the school leavers and young people of Liverpool to use plain English to communicate and refresh their language skills with free training sessions during the week.

We are also running a competition for young people in Liverpool to create a song, poem or piece of prose about their rights to clear communication.

The event recognises and applauds the efforts of the people of Liverpool in building what has become a worldwide cause. Giving the public the right to information they can understand and act upon for assist their daily lives was a fight that started almost 30 years ago with the UK’s first community newspaper in Tuebrook and now more people everywhere, are empowered by refusing to deal with jargon and gobbledygook.

Chrissie Maher, OBE and founder of the campaign sends this message to the people of Liverpool, in particular our next generation, “Never let anyone take your rights away by blinding you with words. We all have a responsibility to do our best to understand, that’s why the basics of education are so vital. Those people telling you that spelling doesn’t matter, they have jobs. Don’t let them fool you into thinking that gobbledygook will hide their own ignorance and mistakes – the credit crunch has shown what lack of understand and unclear communications can do. Let’s arm ourselves with solid, plain speaking, that’s something in which the people of Liverpool are well rooted.”

Plain English Campaign have a “Spelling is Important” petition running on their website for all people to add their voice. This will be presented at the Houses of Parliament on 1 July 2009.

Who has the right to write the rites, Dr Wright or Dr Smith?

Plain English Campaign has today condemned comments made by a senior university lecturer that bad spelling in student essays should be accepted. Founder Chrissie Maher OBE, described Dr Ken Smith’s article in the Times Higher Education magazine as ‘madness’.

Commenting from the campaign’s headquarters in Derbyshire, Chrissie said “It sickens me to consider we would allow anyone the liberty to destroy our heritage just because they are fed up with seeing it misused. Instead do something about it, deal with the real problem, stop the rot! Put it right from the start. How can we expect children to learn basic spelling and grammar if senior educationalists are saying it doesn’t matter? It’s absolute madness.”

Dr Smith, a lecturer in criminology at Buckinghamshire New University, suggested that students and lecturers should be ‘given a break’ and allow misspellings of words such as ‘judgment’, ‘twelfth’, and ‘embarrassed’.

Plain English Campaign, which fights for clear communication in all public documents, recently criticised the news that spelling mistakes and grammatical errors were resulting in higher marks in Standard Assessment Tests (SATs).

Tesco's checkout signs

Over the last few days there has been a lot of press coverage about Tesco's new checkout signs. Some of this coverage suggested that the retailer chose the wording of their new signs based on our recommendation. However, this is not the case.

Read more: Tesco's checkout signs

Wells blasted by supporters of good spelling

Chrissie Maher OBE, founder of Plain English Campaign has come out with all guns blazing at the Spelling Society, following comments made by its president John Wells. On Tuesday he said that the ‘apostrophe is a waste of time’, and that there are more important things to do than worry about correct spelling.

Read more: Wells blasted by supporters of good spelling

Send us your small print

Plain English Campaign is supporting the Small Print Bill being processed through Parliament by Nick Palmer MP who is calling for 'a minimum font size in certain documents, including those relating to advertising and contracts; and for connected purposes'. Our exhibition will take place at the Jubilee Room at Westminster on 17 November between 2pm and 6pm and will be attended by MPs and invited industry leaders who have an interest in promoting clear communications.

Read more: Send us your small print

Plain English Campaign awards for MPs

We invite all MPs and their staff to send us their nominations for the best (clearest) and worst (most ridden with gobbledygook) documents that they have seen this year in Parliament. A shortlist of nominations will be announced on Monday 17 November, in the Jubilee Room, Westminster, and the authors of the winning documents will be presented with an award at the Plain English Awards on Tuesday 9 December.

Read more: Plain English Campaign awards for MPs

The Plain English Awards 2008

The Plain English Awards 2008 have now been announced. The press release showing the award winners is available as a PDF document (50 KB). You can also download a copy of the awards ceremony programme (PDF, 48KB).

Read more: The Plain English Awards 2008

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