Re: [sc] Campaign for Plain English



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Ian.Gibson(at)Fluor.com
Date: Thu 05 Dec 2002 - 01:08:28 GMT


A slip of the mental tongue, indeed. My mind was slipping back a century to
the battle with Bishop Wilberforce, where the scientific discourse became
somewhat twisted also.

Perhaps we need some of the Pidgin English grammar where dead means in very
poor health, dead-dead is terminal, dead-dead-dead requires a reverent
disposal.
Or a safety tag from Bougainville Copper I once read, which on one side
read "This equipment is unserviceable", and on the other, in plain Pidgin,
"Dis pella im buggerup".
Succinct and intelligible to readers of both languages.



Ian H. Gibson
Principal Technical Specialist - Process and Control Systems
Fluor Australia Pty Ltd
Melbourne Australia
Ph. (61-3) 9268 6122  Fax. (61-3) 9268 6037
ian.gibson(at)fluor.com


|---------+------------------------------------->
|         |           David Tombs               |
|         |           <tombs(at)svrc.uq.edu.au>    |
|         |           Sent by:                  |
|         |           safety-critical-request(at)cs|
|         |           .york.ac.uk               |
|         |           05/12/02 11:23            |
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  |     Subject:  Re: [sc] Campaign for Plain English                                                                           |
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All,

> It doesn't take Latin to obfuscate; Huxley in '1984' ?????

Orwell, G; '1984'. Penguin Books, 1949
From the list of references in the definition of the computer language
'NewSpeak'.

I'm sure that was just a slip of the keyboard from Ian.

Incidently, the real Campaign for Plain English publishes some good
guidance on writing technical literature
for a non-technical readership, along with well as examples of how, and
how not, to do it. Their main advice is:
      Keep your sentences short
      Prefer active verbs
      Use 'you' and 'we'
      Choose words appropriate for the reader
      Don't be afraid to give instructions
      Avoid nominalisations
      Use positive language
      Use lists where appropriate
Take a look at
  http://www.plainenglish.co.uk


The safety world is bedevilled with terminology, that is slightly
different from (or at least, more precise than) it's natural English
usage. A colleague of mine, a native German speaker, has difficulty with
the distinctions between 'error', 'fault' and 'failure'. So I would add
another line:
      If you use a technical term, define it.

David
=====================================
David Tombs
Software Verification Research Centre
University of Queensland
Brisbane           QLD 4072
  phone            +61 7 3365 1643
  fax        +61 7 3365 1533
  email tombs(at)svrc.uq.edu.au
=====================================








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