Some of the note-worthy events for the plain language movement
Mexico City conference of Clarity, the international lawyers’ group, exhibited the growing influence of plain language in Latin America. Clarity celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2008.
From Australia, Peter Butt, for the now-closed Centre for Plain Legal Language, announced the availability of two books on the Clarity website.
Law Words: 30 Essays on legal words and phrases (a study of 30 legalese words and phrases, with researched suggestions for plain language equivalents)
The Gains from Clarity: A research report on the effects of plain-language documents (an empirical study into efficiencies achieved in using plain language in legal documents).
The year also marked the formation and first meeting of the International Plain Language Working Group (see photo) whose task is two-fold: define plain language and investigate a certification process for practitioners. This working committee of three organizations has begun to craft a definition of plain language and investigate creating an institute and certification program for consultants. The organizations are PLAIN, The U.S. Plain Language Center, and Clarity.
And we saw the formal incorporation of Plain Language Association INternational (PLAIN) with a new Board of Directors and William Lutz as Chairman.
* President – Bill Lutz (Philadelphia/Washington, USA)
* Vice-president – Ron Wohl (West Virginia, USA)
* Treasurer – Ruth Baldwin (Ottawa, Canada)
* Secretary – Diane MacGregor (Halifax, Canada)
* Email Forum Moderator – Gary Larson (Seattle, USA)
* Web Manager – Nad Rosenberg (New Jersey, USA)
* Liaison between PLAIN and Clarity – Mark Adler (France)
* Support to Secretary – Ginny Redish (Bethesda, USA)
* Conference Host for October, 2009 – Neil James (Sydney, Australia)
* Zuraya Adhikarie (Cape Town, South Africa)
* Ferdinand Tjombe (Namibia)
* Noushad Ali Naseem Ameer Ali (Malaysia)
International Literacy Day, September 8, highlighted the value of plain language in health communication. A group, Plain Language Movement, was formed on Facebook, and another, Plain Language Advocates, was created on LinkedIn.
In New Zealand, the Plain Language Power network was formed.
Plain language arrived in Portugal this year where, for the first time, a governmental body (social security agency) adopted plain language.
And Cheryl Stephens completed a blog tour to introduce the revised edition of Plain Language Legal Writing.
AAAS, the organization that publishes Science magazine, launched a plain language initiative that will train and provide encouragement to scientists to write in plain language.
Securities and Exchange Commission
William Lutz led the Security and Exchange Commission’s “21st Century Disclosure Initiative.” The Securities and Exchange Commission voted in November to allow shortened mutual fund disclosure statements.
USA Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
America’s new Federal Rules of Civil Procedure have been approved by the Supreme Court, and are now in force. Joseph Kimble labored for four years on this project.
Plain Language Law
The Braley plain language bill made it through the U.S. House of Representatives and a referral to a committee of the Senate, with Barack Obama one of many co-sponsors. The bill was blocked in committee by the opposition of Utah Senator Bob Bennett. The law would endorse the federal plain language guidelines.
Center for Plain Legal Language
The Center for Plain Language held a 2008 symposium in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Edward Fry, of the Fry Graph, published a website: http://www.drfrysreading.com/
Oregon joined the list of states with new plain language laws or programs. The governor must report to the Legislature by January 2009 on the progress of that effort.
Supreme Court of Alberta Rules of Court were released after 7 years of work by drafter David Elliot and the Alberta Law Reform Institute. Clearer court rules were also issued for Nova Scotia.
And a new set of procedural rules was adopted was adopted by the British Columbia provincial Human Rights Tribunal.
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada and MasterCard Canada adopted plain language credit card models.
Joseph M Williams died in February. Joe was a leader clear language and his book Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (9th ed) is a landmark in the field.
In India, a leader in plain language passed in April. Jyoti Sanyal often promoted plain language through articles in The Statesman. His book his book, Indlish, was reviewed in Clarity magazine.
In March, Eirlys Rhiwen Cadwaladr Roberts, British consumer activist, died at 97. She worked to encourage the European Commission to use plain language and two of her articles were published in Clarity magazine. Her articles, in issues 41 and 44, are available from the journals page of the Clarity website.