Thursday, May 19, 2011


On May 19, 2011, AP writer Calvin Woodward reported in "Feds Must Stop Writing Gibberish under New Law" that President Obama signed into law the Plain Writing Act.  That act requires that "federal agencies must start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public," although enforcement is limited.

The measure is, in effect, nothing more than a publicity stunt.  In theory, "each agency must have a senior official overseeing plain writing."  This will either mean that an already-existing official--one of the people putting out the "gibberish--will be promoted and tasked with being grammar police, or a number of new people will need to be hired to do the oversight--amidst clamors for reduced governmental spending.

Who would be qualified as "expert" in the area?  Journalists?  English professors?  Businesspeople?

What, really, is "plain English?"  Whose English?  And who actually speaks or writes it fully?

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