Plain English communicator 2014

For clear spoken public communications from an individual or organisation.

The 2014 plain English communicator is:

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Normally a contender for one of our ‘bad’ awards, Boris Johnson stunned us this year by sticking up for clarity in Westminster. We thought his comments, made during an interview with Evan Davis, were well worthy of our 2014 award. We can only hope his suggestions are taken on board. Here are extracts from what he had to say on the need for MPs to speak plain English.

I think one thing that is incredibly important is to try to speak...and I fail totally on this and I catch myself endlessly on the radio...you’re waffling and burbling and using all sorts of endless Latinate words in exactly that way. What people listen to are short Anglo Saxon words that readily correspond to some object in the universe that they can identify. So in other words talk simply, use plain English and talk about stuff in the real world.

What’s going on is that politicians are using complicated words and concepts in order to polyfilla over a difficult bit in the argument and that’s what cheeses people off...because they can detect that ...they can spot it...and they want to hear it put more simply and...I mean I’m a terrible offender myself...I know I do it... I try not to...but if you want to be heard you have to speak plainly and I believe that completely. That is I think at the heart of much of the problem...it’s a problem of language and it’s a problem of style but that reflects an unwillingness to be honest about the issues.

People want to engage in the argument, and you can’t engage in the argument if it’s cloaked and swaddled in a load of waffle that nobody can get to grips with.

I would much rather be understood and much rather get my case across than just sort of jazz everything up in a lot of meaningless waffle.

We were as surprised as we were grateful that such a prominent political figure saw fit to speak out for clearer communication. While we’re doubtful about the impact his comments will have, Johnson’s engaged and passionate stance on the issue can do no harm.

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