The web buzzes with talk about the new U.S. credit reform law (there is mostly silence on Canada’s new law).
A quick look at this tells me that there is no actual mention of “plain language” in the final version of the bill that was endorsed into law last week. Instead the term used elsewhere, mainly in the regulation of advertising, is adopted: clear and conspicuous. Forms, disclosures, and written statements must be clear and conspicuous.
In commentary and court decisions on the term, it carries many requirements for making information appear prominantly in a document, but (concerning language) we learn only that the information must be made understandable to its intended audience of consumers.
Look here for a guideline that is often quoted:
To evaluate whether a particular disclosure is clear and conspicuous, consider:
the placement of the disclosure in an advertisement and its proximity to the claim it is qualifying,
the prominence of the disclosure,
whether items in other parts of the advertisement distract attention from the disclosure,
whether the advertisement is so lengthy that the disclosure needs to be repeated,
whether disclosures in audio messages are presented in an adequate volume and cadence and visual disclosures appear for a sufficient duration, and
whether the language of the disclosure is understandable to the intended audience.
The New York Times plays with setting out credit terms in the familiar style of nutrition notices:
A collection of Internet tidbits
A good blog post on plain language from Monica on Marketing who “looks at the simple difference between a paragraph from GE and a paragraph from Apple talking about their technology innovations”.
Clear and personable introduction to business purpose:
What do you find at Click Media Works?
Clear & clever communications for real-life people in real-world business, that’s what.
Super language should be a matter for Federal review: Doyle
Money Management – May 13, 2009
A call has been made for the Federal Government to include a review of the language used in the superannuation sphere as part of its examination of the …
Banning Latin… Classics scholars accuse councils of dumbing down
Not so long ago local councils were being dragged across the coals by academics who claimed that banning Latin for the sake of plain communication was akin to ethnic cleansing. Which is a bit extreme! But surely banning words is as bad as burning books?
Plain English works best: Suncorp
Thursday, 14 May 2009 12:55pm
Suncorp Wealth Management has overhauled its communication strategy to help members better understand super, starting with a new communications guide for internal staff and a new look and feel to at least 100 types of letters it sends to members each year.
The government-backed Financial Literacy campaign gets a big leg-up from Suncorp after it decided not just to simplify its member letters but also to instill a “plain English” culture internally – starting with a ‘style guide’ that staff can refer to when talking to or emailing clients…
Suncorp super platform solves legacy problems
InvestorDaily – May 13, 2009
By Wouter Klijn The migration of Suncorp’s super clients into a single platform will mean an end to its legacy problems. The migration of superannuation …
The 2008-2009 NIH Plain Language Award Ceremony will be held Tuesday, June 2, 2009, 1:00 p.m. Lipsett Auditorium, Bethesda, Maryland and will feature Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Capehart, editorial writer for The Washington Post.
The annual NIH Plain Language Award ceremony honors outstanding NIH communication products including revised websites, fact sheets, multi-media presentations, and other materials, including items designed for Spanish-speaking audiences. To view the 2007-2008 event, see http://videocast.nih.gov/. For archived awards information: http://www.nih.gov/clearcommunication/plarchive/index.htm
Public Lecture in Toronto, May 14
Neil Cohn of Tufts University and Emaki Productions will give a public lecture at the University of Toronto on Thursday, May 14th at 5pm. His will be the first talk in the Visual Thinking lecture series More information here.
What is “Visual Language”?: What Comics can Tell Us About the Mind
Many theories describing “visual language” have been emerging from diverse fields including computer science, communications, and design. However, often these approaches rely on metaphoric or folk notions of “language” without delving deeper into what Language actually consists of, especially on a cognitive level. This talk will present Visual Language Theory from the view of the linguistic and cognitive sciences to discuss what “language” entails, and thereby exploring just what it means to have a literal theory of a graphic modality of language. The result will be a view of graphic communication and the capacity for drawing that is embedded alongside other mental capacities and divorced from socio-cultural labels that stymie its recognition.
How to Write for a Global Audience
If you’re advertising or writing about a carbonated beverage, what do you call it? Soda? Pop? Fizzy drink? Mineral? All of these terms are “correct” depending on where your readers are. Today, there is a greater chance of your work being read by someone on a different continent, especially if you write online. It’s predicted that by 2011, there will be 1.5 billion people with Internet access, with most new users coming from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Here’s how to tailor your writing to the emerging global audience…
‘People’ or ’service users’ April 1
Plain English? A Study of Plain English Vocabulary and International Audiences.By THRUSH, EMILY A., Technical Communication
Effective Communications: Learning From Orwell
A continuing theme on the blog: Let me do that for you …A good Virtual Assistant will help you translate all your written communications into plain language so that every single time you make contact with a customer, prospect, employee or colleague you’ll make a big, positive impact instead of creating confusion and irritation.
This resource was brought to my attention again, and I figure I should share it with you this time around.
Plain Language Thesaurus For Health Communications
“This Plain Language Thesaurus has been put together by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Marketing. Our aim is to help make health information clear and easy to understand.
This thesaurus offers plain language equivalents to medical terms, phrases, and references that we often use…
Key sources included
• www.pandemicflu.gov glossary
• CDC Community Strategy for Pandemic Influenza Mitigation glossary
• National Immunization Program Glossary
• Simple Words and Phrases thesaurus at plainlanguage.gov
• Clear Language and Design (CLAD) thesaurus
• Harvard’s three Plain Language Glossaries (one for asthma, lupus, and arthritis).”