The ArgusCouncil staff to be taught how to write plain English (From The Argus)

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Brighton and Hove City Council staff to be taught how to write plain English after complaints of jargon-filled letters

The Argus: Councillor Bill Randall postulated people were often discombobulated by jargon Councillor Bill Randall postulated people were often discombobulated by jargon

Council officers should be given training on writing clearer letters.

Residents who received letters from Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing department complained they were so full of jargon they could not understand them.

Staff will now have to have training in writing letters using simplified language in an effort to help tenants.

Councillor Bill Randall said he had recently received a letter from a tenant who had given up applying for a housing transfer because she couldn’t understand the forms she had to fill out.

He said: “We have a lot of people who find these things difficult.”

The council’s Housing Management Consultative Committee yesterday decided staff should be trained in writing letters, using plain English.

During the debate councillors gave their full backing to the plans to introduce dumbed down documents.

Officers will also be given an A-Z of alternative words – and provided examples of useful sentences to help them write letters.

It is not the first time staff have been trained to dumb down their correspondence.

A similar strategy took place several years ago but due to the turnover in staff since then it has been recommended the training happens again.

Coun Pete West added: “It’s very easy for us to slip into using jargon.

“It’s quite clearly very important because there are people who struggle with written English and they’ve had difficulty.”

Comments (16)

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6:24am Wed 2 Apr 14

dickpagebrighton says...

As we know it's not just the council that slips into jargon - how about those letters from energy companies having to tell you they are raising your prices, but not quite wanting to say it. The trick for organisations is knowing when to use their shorthand when talking to their own, but not with the public.

But let's not get the impresion it's just people who struggle with reading & writing, or for whom English is a second language, who can't understand jargon - it's many intelligent fluent English speakers as well !
As we know it's not just the council that slips into jargon - how about those letters from energy companies having to tell you they are raising your prices, but not quite wanting to say it. The trick for organisations is knowing when to use their shorthand when talking to their own, but not with the public. But let's not get the impresion it's just people who struggle with reading & writing, or for whom English is a second language, who can't understand jargon - it's many intelligent fluent English speakers as well ! dickpagebrighton
  • Score: 17

7:28am Wed 2 Apr 14

rogerthefish says...

It's a sad reflection of society, I would imagine for some "clients" of the Council text messages would be more suitable.
It's a sad reflection of society, I would imagine for some "clients" of the Council text messages would be more suitable. rogerthefish
  • Score: 14

9:05am Wed 2 Apr 14

Morpheus says...

How can the use of plain English be viewed as dumbing down?
How can the use of plain English be viewed as dumbing down? Morpheus
  • Score: 18

9:08am Wed 2 Apr 14

Man With No Name says...

Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.
Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English. Man With No Name
  • Score: 6

9:39am Wed 2 Apr 14

BURIRAM says...

How about plain Polish
How about plain Polish BURIRAM
  • Score: 1

10:03am Wed 2 Apr 14

mtmoocher says...

Man With No Name wrote:
Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.
The irony is not lost!
[quote][p][bold]Man With No Name[/bold] wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.[/p][/quote]The irony is not lost! mtmoocher
  • Score: 17

11:01am Wed 2 Apr 14

Martha Gunn says...

But this man is a practitioner of Greenspeak!
The language Green People speak to befuddle and bewilder us all

Admittedly he is not the worst culprit.
Nonetheless he speaks OnePlanet gobbledegook along with the rest of them.

How ever could he speak plain and unambiguous English?
That would be an oxymoronic and counter-intuitive contrariety.
But this man is a practitioner of Greenspeak! The language Green People speak to befuddle and bewilder us all Admittedly he is not the worst culprit. Nonetheless he speaks OnePlanet gobbledegook along with the rest of them. How ever could he speak plain and unambiguous English? That would be an oxymoronic and counter-intuitive contrariety. Martha Gunn
  • Score: 5

12:29pm Wed 2 Apr 14

billy goat-gruff says...

Man With No Name wrote:
Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.
is that the drink talking ;)
[quote][p][bold]Man With No Name[/bold] wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.[/p][/quote]is that the drink talking ;) billy goat-gruff
  • Score: 4

12:38pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Andy R says...

Man With No Name wrote:
Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.
Oh dear. Muphry's Law.....
[quote][p][bold]Man With No Name[/bold] wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.[/p][/quote]Oh dear. Muphry's Law..... Andy R
  • Score: 6

2:28pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Minion says...

"It is not the first time staff have been trained to dumb down their correspondence. "

There's no 'dumbing down' in using intelligible language.
People who don't work in council offices don't need to learn the jargon, it doesn't make them dumb.
On the other hand, expecting people who don't work in your field to understand your office jargon is kind of dumb.
"It is not the first time staff have been trained to dumb down their correspondence. " There's no 'dumbing down' in using intelligible language. People who don't work in council offices don't need to learn the jargon, it doesn't make them dumb. On the other hand, expecting people who don't work in your field to understand your office jargon is kind of dumb. Minion
  • Score: 6

4:46pm Wed 2 Apr 14

MuammarQaddafi says...

“It’s quite clearly very important because there are people who struggle with written English and they’ve had difficulty.” Coun West, the problem is not residents who struggle to read plain English, but with ignorant, rebarbative jobsworths who struggle with writing it.
“It’s quite clearly very important because there are people who struggle with written English and they’ve had difficulty.” Coun West, the problem is not residents who struggle to read plain English, but with ignorant, rebarbative jobsworths who struggle with writing it. MuammarQaddafi
  • Score: 1

5:13pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Man With No Name says...

mtmoocher wrote:
Man With No Name wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.
The irony is not lost!
Its only a small mistake......
[quote][p][bold]mtmoocher[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Man With No Name[/bold] wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.[/p][/quote]The irony is not lost![/p][/quote]Its only a small mistake...... Man With No Name
  • Score: 1

5:14pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Man With No Name says...

billy goat-gruff wrote:
Man With No Name wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.
is that the drink talking ;)
It was a super mistake. I am going to blame it on the new phone....
[quote][p][bold]billy goat-gruff[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Man With No Name[/bold] wrote: Alternatively, tennants could learn basic English.[/p][/quote]is that the drink talking ;)[/p][/quote]It was a super mistake. I am going to blame it on the new phone.... Man With No Name
  • Score: 1

10:02pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Levent says...

Morpheus wrote:
How can the use of plain English be viewed as dumbing down?
Because MOST English speakers are now semi-literate in their own language! As witnessed by comments on here, where "they're-their-there
" are confused, apostrophes are also far too complex and punctuation is non-existent.

You lefties call this the "progressive evolution of language". I call it devolution, and at this rate we're all be communicating in crude finger and thumb sign language twenty years from now. Some "progress" BOZO!!
[quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: How can the use of plain English be viewed as dumbing down?[/p][/quote]Because MOST English speakers are now semi-literate in their own language! As witnessed by comments on here, where "they're-their-there " are confused, apostrophes are also far too complex and punctuation is non-existent. You lefties call this the "progressive evolution of language". I call it devolution, and at this rate we're all be communicating in crude finger and thumb sign language twenty years from now. Some "progress" BOZO!! Levent
  • Score: -1

10:13pm Wed 2 Apr 14

Minion says...

Levent wrote:
Morpheus wrote:
How can the use of plain English be viewed as dumbing down?
Because MOST English speakers are now semi-literate in their own language! As witnessed by comments on here, where "they're-their-
there
" are confused, apostrophes are also far too complex and punctuation is non-existent.

You lefties call this the "progressive evolution of language". I call it devolution, and at this rate we're all be communicating in crude finger and thumb sign language twenty years from now. Some "progress" BOZO!!
"Because MOST English speakers are now semi-literate in their own language!"

Now? As opposed to when?
[quote][p][bold]Levent[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: How can the use of plain English be viewed as dumbing down?[/p][/quote]Because MOST English speakers are now semi-literate in their own language! As witnessed by comments on here, where "they're-their- there " are confused, apostrophes are also far too complex and punctuation is non-existent. You lefties call this the "progressive evolution of language". I call it devolution, and at this rate we're all be communicating in crude finger and thumb sign language twenty years from now. Some "progress" BOZO!![/p][/quote]"Because MOST English speakers are now semi-literate in their own language!" Now? As opposed to when? Minion
  • Score: 1

9:41am Thu 3 Apr 14

mimseycal says...

It has little to do with literacy or illiteracy, English as a second language or dumbing down.. It is about being aware of the language used. That includes tone as well as jargon.
It has little to do with literacy or illiteracy, English as a second language or dumbing down.. It is about being aware of the language used. That includes tone as well as jargon. mimseycal
  • Score: 1

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