News & views
Plain-language conference presentations are now available
[2 Jan 2015] About 180 people attended the Learning to be Clear conference at Antwerp and Brussels in November, arranged by Clarity (the body of – mainly – lawyers who campaign for clear language in the law) and IC Clear (clever title, huh?, which enables people to become certified as clear communicators).
Click here for the link to the conference presentations, a treasure trove of current thinking on plain language and related topics. These include talks by Emily O'Reilly (European Ombudsman), Karine Nicolay (IC Clear), Neil James, Ginny Redish, Hayley Rogers (UK parliamentary counsel), Daphne Perry and Annetta Cheek.
Martin Cutts of Plain Language Commission gave a paper on one of his many consumerist obsessions. ‘Foxed and fined: how unclear contractual parking signs bamboozle motorists’ examines the signs at Queen's Hospital, Burton, Staffs and finds them completely useless (except at generating penalty income for ParkingEye, one of the UK’s biggest parking companies). His paper is included in the presentation list you can access via the link above. Around 45 people came to his talk and underwent the 'little parking quiz' in which they had to put themselves in the motorists’ shoes and figure out how much money they should pay for parking.
Most of the brainboxes, which included top-notch lawyers and parliamentary drafters, failed to get any or all of the correct answers. But perhaps that's because the signs are so multiply ambiguous there aren't really any correct answers. This means they’d each pick up a £70 parking penalty.
As Italian graffiti used to say (and perhaps still do/does), 'Lotta continua' – the struggle goes on.