National Plain English Day fell on Friday 9 December 2011 and coincided with the Plain English Campaign’s annual Golden Bull awards.
National Plain English Day started with the launch of the campaign when the supporters travelled to Parliament and set to shredding jargon-filled documents on Parliament Green. The police then intervened and read out the legalese-filled Metropolitan Police Act, prompting Chrissie Maher, founder of Plain English Campaign to ask,
“Does all that mean we have to go?”
Since then the campaign has been fighting against the use of jargon and gobbledygook in public information from both private and public service organisations. The awards ceremony recognises public nominations gathered over the year for both well and poorly written information.
The campaign has been fighting jargon and gobbledygook for 32 years and 2011 brings the 32nd awards ceremony. Traditionally this has been held in London but this year, Liverpool, the Campaign’s birthplace, hosted our event. And we were lucky enough to hold it in the famous Cavern Club.
This year we will be asking everyone to sign our online petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/17809 for a plain language Act to be raised in Parliament.
Our supporters will also be in the city centre handing out ‘return to sender’ stickers for the public to use on any information they receive that cannot be easily understood.
The stickers will also be available to download from the Plain English Campaign website for jargon-laden emails.
Chrissie Maher, founder of Plain English Campaign says, “I wanted the campaign to give people the confidence to push back on the growing mountain of confusion and meaningless language in public information. The success of the campaign can be seen in the clearer information provided by many organisations over the years. But even though most people agree that plain English is plain common sense, our government needs to make it a legal duty that public communications are crystal-clear.”
The awards ceremony dipped into the world of creative gobbledygook using the worlds of music and art to highlight the need to get the message across clearly, whatever form of communication is used.
You can see a collection of photos of the awards ceremony on the photographer's website. If you wish a print of the ceremoney (or of yourself receiving your award), this is where you can order them.
You can use the links below to see the winners of awards in the following categories.
- Chrissie Maher award
- Everybody Matters award
- Foot in Mouth award (for baffling quotes by public figures)
- Golden Bull awards (for the worst examples of written tripe)
- Kick in the pants (draws attention to companies or organisations who need to communicate in plainer English)
- Media awards (radio, television and newspapers)
- Osborne Memorial award (for a major contribution to the plain English cause)
- Pat on the back (celebrates efforts to communicate clearly)
- Plain English awards (open category)
- Plain English communicators (for clear spoken public communications from an individual or organisation)
- Plain English Diploma 2011 holders
- Web award (websites)