This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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23 April 2010

Tips for writing insurance policies

With small print in insurance policies hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons, Martin Cutts shares his 10 top tips on how to write insurance policies that don’t require a translator or insurance expert to understand them.

Gobbledegookers need not apply

The Government of Alberta (Canada) has recently published an RFP (request for proposal) that says consultants must be members of PLAIN to apply.

(PLAIN is the Plain Language Association International)

21 April 2010

While travelling through a mutual friend...

Linguist Laurie Bauer warns us to be careful that we say what we mean:

Perhaps the wartime headline of "Churchill flies back to front" was intended as a joke, but I presume that the item in a Scottish paper complaining that "The Duchess wore nothing to show she was the recipient of four Scottish honours", if genuine, was unintended.

A colleague drew my attention to an advertisement for a "preloved women's fashion show", and I hope the preloved women who attended had a good time.

But sometimes these things seem to go beyond a joke, as in the badly named British institution, the National Centre for Domestic Violence.

Sometimes near enough is really not good enough, and we have to think carefully about the effect we make, at the risk of being unintentionally offensive.

One of my personal favourites is the term 'Criminal Intelligence'.

In the remainder of the article, Laurie talks about word pairs where a noun and a verb have the same spelling, but different vowel sounds or stresses.

05 April 2010

Partnership with the New Zealand Translation Centre

We've talked about it for ages but now we've made it happen! We've teamed up with our friends at the New Zealand Translation Centre (NZTC) to offer Write clients a worldclass translation service. NZTC translates into over 70 languages and does a brilliant job.

What's the connection between plain English and foreign language translation? If your source document is as clear as possible, you'll get a better translation --- easy!