Plain Language Commission . Clear English Standard


  1. Fall of Troy
  2. Subeditors a dying breed, says new website
  3. Plain language and the courts
  4. Deceptive language – food from fake farms
  5. Pikestaff 75 – read it now
  6. Jottings
  7. Jargon for grown-ups
  8. English to be Latin of EU?
  9. Large amount of amounts
  10. ‘The reason is because’
  11. Clichés – ‘wash down’, again
Go to archive

News & views

Commons Speaker floats idea of dropping ‘honourable’ references but jargonauts fight back

[17 Jan 2015] The impersonal way MPs traditionally address each other in the (UK) House of Commons could change if an idea floated by the Speaker, John Bercow, is adopted. At present, members use variations on the subtle themes of ‘honourable  gentleman’, ‘honourable lady’, ‘honourable member for Erewhon’, ‘my honourable friend’ and ‘the right honourable lady’; and only the Speaker may refer to an MP by name. Bercow says Parliament should review whether it should move towards a more ‘modern system’.

We think it should: the current approach is tedious, timewasting and confusing to outsiders. (The House of Lords uses similar rhubarb, with peers referring to each other as ‘my noble lord’, ‘the noble lady’ etc.)

MPs do sometimes object to other people’s jargon, eg the nonsense uttered before them by Jon Day, an official who chairs the Joint Intelligence Committee. He declared: ‘Each department has its own horizon-scanning policy development machinery. If I was to identify the first risk, it is that this work is stove-piped.’ Alluding to the ordure of a male farm animal, Greg Mulholland, a Liberal Democrat MP, said he could think of an eight-letter word to describe such language.

Meanwhile, in a statement about blankets and tents for displaced people in Iraq, Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, told MPs he was busy ‘winterising refugee accommodation’.

(Source: Daily Telegraph, 21 Nov and 13 Dec 2014, Daily Mail 17 Oct 2014]

Yes, I accept the cookie. No, I decline the cookie. would like to place a cookie on your computer to help us make this website better. To find out more about the cookies, see our privacy policy