The Plain English Foundation has some terrific examples that show what plain language looks like. It also has information that explains what plain language isn’t.
Here are some of the characteristics of bureaucratic government language listed on their web site:
- Long, complex words
- Long, unwieldy sentences
- Impenetrable jargon
- Passive voice
- Unnecessary verbiage
- Padding and pointless detail
It gets funny when it offers a version of Shakespeare’s Sonnet, Shall I Compare Thee To a Summer’s Day, in the language of bureaucracy.
|Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?||It is proposed that comparisons be drawn between the recipient and a period of not less than 24 hours commencing on or after 1 June but prior to 1 September, i.e., summer (refer TAB 1 regarding the UK calendar).|
|Thou art more lovely and more temperate:||Following full consultation with relevant stakeholders, the writer is of the view that a greater number of practical and beneficial qualities are inherent in the recipient than the aforementioned seasonal period.|
|Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,||It has been noted in the course of the writer’s research that turbulent air streams do, on occasion, agitate developing blossoms in the month of May, to the detriment of their physical appearance.|
|And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.||It has been further noted that seasonal advantages are oftentimes terminated in an overly precipitous manner.|