The government have been reading my blog (or at least I assume so) and after seeing the posting about jargon in modern life have decided to act decisively. This was in the Telegraph the other day:
Officials have been issued with an online style guide governing everything published on the Gov.uk website which clears up what is acceptable Whitehallese.
No longer will civil servants be able to “deliver” improvements or priorities, as the term is reserved for items such as pizzas and post, not abstract concepts. The only thing that they can now “drive out” is cattle or “foster” is children, the style guide suggests.
Tackling is also banned, “unless it is rugby, football or some other sport”, and the writers of the guide point out that the “key” should be used only in a lock.
More than 30 terms of jargon which have crept into Government announcements and policy documents have now been placed off-limits.
The guide advises: “Use plain English. Don’t use formal or long words when easy or short ones will do. Use ‘buy’ instead of ‘purchase’, ‘help’ instead of ‘assist’, ‘about’ instead of ‘approximately’ and ‘like’ instead of ‘such as’.
“We also lose trust from our users if we write government ‘buzzwords’ and jargon. Often, these words are too general and vague and can lead to misinterpretation or empty, meaningless text. We can do without these words:”
Unless it is a meeting there will be no agenda, and there will be no collaborating, advancing or combating.
Civil servants will no longer commit of pledge, because, as the guide points out, “we’re either doing something or we’re not”.
The style guide has been created by the team who put together the Government’s new website Gov.uk which brings all the services under one site.
Sarah Richards, who worked on the guide, said plain English was not the same a dumbing down.
“The style is about writing clearly, concisely and without jargon. Everyone can benefit from simplicity,” she wrote on a blog launching the site.
“Some people have previously seen this as ‘dumbing down’ but being open and accessible to everyone isn’t ‘dumb’ – it’s our responsibility.”
The move has been welcomed by plain English campaigners.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman told the Independent: “Going forward, we will be advancing a pledge to deliver and utilise clearer language on our award-winning GOV.UK.
“We are keen to foster improved cooperation to empower further the public. But seriously, we want to get better at this, and the Content Guide is one of the reasons GOV.UK has over 1.3m users a month.”