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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).

The use of Latin in public documents

We agree with certain councils’ commitment to removing, from information documents, any words that are potentially confusing to the general public.

Over our many years of campaigning, we have found that many people are not familiar with Latin phrases. Because of this, we encourage organisations to avoid them in information documents aimed at the general public.

We are fully aware that the English language is rich and varied and our aim would never be to eliminate words from it. However, we always aim to promote the use of language that is appropriate to the intended audience. When producing documents aimed at the public, writing simply and clearly with the essential information is not patronising, it is efficient and effective.

Information, particularly from financial, legal, government and medical sources, needs to be crystal clear for a public audience which is diverse and has varying levels of understanding.

A lack of education, reading difficulties, poor eyesight and having English as a second language are not reflections of intelligence or common sense. So using jargon and unfamiliar words becomes another obstacle to people’s understanding and each person’s democratic right to take the appropriate action.

Plain English is about people being able to read information and understand and act on it on the first reading.

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