This site uses session cookies. These cookies do not record any personal information.

Nanny McPhee - bull or champion?

The annual awards are coming and the jargon is pouring in - particularly a number of nominations for Emma Thompson, the actress, who recently spoke out against the sloppy language of teenagers.

You can read a report of her comments in the Mail Online.

It must be the first time that the same person and the same comment has been nominated for both the good and bad categories of our awards. And that divided public opinion is reflected within the campaign's offices.

Yes, we agree the language used by many young people is foreign to many adult ears. The laziness in grammar and punctuation, the lack of care in spelling and pronunciation - it makes grumpy old people of those of us who don't get it.

Fortunately, most of us in the office are still able to remember something of our youth and almost every hand was raised when asked the question "Did you ever get pulled up for the way you spoke as a teenager?"

It is part of growing up that we behave differently to the adults. What has been lost is an ability to recognise when certain communications are inappropriate for the intended audience. It might not impress the prospective employer if you greet him with "Wocha", and employers are struggling with job applicants whose literacy levels appear to be dropping, despite the gradings and exam results that add sparkle to the school league tables.

John Humphrys has captured the two sides of the argument perfectly. And he goes on to place the criticisms where they really belong - with adults who persist in using their own sloppy language in the form of jargon and gobbledygook.

After 30 years of providing plain English training to adults, usually within their workplace, Plain English Campaign is approaching the fight for clear communications from the point of working with young people before they move from teenspeak into adult management-speak.

Communication is a creative and useful tool at the centre of our society. If we lose the ability to communicate, in whatever is the appropriate language for the audience, then we might just as well "talk to the hand".

Copyright © 2021 Plain English Campaign. All Rights Reserved.