Use Clear and Simple Structure
for Plain English has been around for many years. In the fourteenth
century, one of Chaucer’s characters demanded
Speketh so pleyne at this time, I yow preye
That we may understonde what ye seye
in Cutts 1995:4).
Therefore, it can be argued that the primary function of any
language is to allow for communication. In terms of practicality,
clear and simple language is far more efficient than a flamboyant or
excessive equivalent regardless of technical correctness (Plain
English Campaign 1993).
founder of the Plain English Campaign, Chrissie Mayer, identified
the fatal extent of poor and confusing communication whereby two
elderly ladies had died. They developed hyperthermia as a result of
not being able to correctly complete a benefits form due to its
complicated language (Plain English Campaign 1993).
English means tailoring the language appropriately in order to help
people extract the meaning of a message without having to read
through it more than once (Cutts 1995: 3). However, this does not
mean patronising the reader with simple words akin to those used for
communicating with primary school children (Plain English Campaign
summary, Plain English is defined as ‘a message, written with the
reader in mind and with the right tone of voice, that is clear and
concise’ (Plain English Campaign 2008).
evaluation, I shall be examining the advice given in ‘How To Write
In Plain English’ (Plain English Campaign 2008).
regard to structure, the campaign advises that a body of writing
should consist of mixed length sentences to give an average sentence
length of fifteen to twenty words (Plain English Campaign 2008).
Cutts (1995) agrees with these guidelines; however he acknowledges
that The Plain English Campaign’s advice is not a quick fix. Writing
to a good standard will still prove to be a laborious challenge but,
if the writer adheres to the campaign’s advice, the product of their
effort will be something readers are more likely to understand.
Ultimately, the communicative meaning should be the writer’s
priority; even if it means exceeding the recommended sentence length