Plain Languge certificate now being offered

Imagine that a certificate program in Plain Language has now been introduced. I confess I have mixed emotions about this. Encouraging more people to become proficient and to use Plain Language in communicating is a good thing. But gee whiz, do we really need a certificate program to do that? E.B. White and Miss Hall, a highly revered English teacher in the Des Moines public schools in the 1960s, would probably be laughing themselves silly if they were around. Isn’t it the job of English teachers everywhere to teach the value of plain language?

Now, I’m wondering:

  • What forces work against plain language?  Inadequate instruction in writing? Haste in writing?
  • Who writes confounding and confusing prose? Pompous academics? Unscrupulous marketers? Overly cautious lawyers?
  • What will it take to require Plain Language in contracts, laws, regulations and user agreements? Political pressure from enough consumers and citizens?
  • What actions can I and others take to promote the use of Plain Language?

If you have thoughts about any of these questions, please let me know.

About msvoss

Melinda Voss, MPH, APR, is a freelance writer, editor and public relations specialist. A staff writer for The Des Moines Register and Tribune for nearly 26 years, she has won regional and national awards and taught undergraduate and graduate journalism courses at three universities. In 1999, she earned a master's degree in public health from the University of Minnesota after co-founding the Association of Health Care Journalists in 1997. Voss initially served as the association's unpaid coordinator, then became the executive director from 1999 to 2004. She then became the public relations director for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system and served in that position until November 2012. She earned her APR, an accreditation in public relations, in 2011.
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