29 July 2009

Plain English Please

Matt Ranil at Aid Thoughts has a great post about aid jargon (the choice quote being "buzzwords, and their satanic progeny, acronyms").

I think we need a Plain English Campaign for aid; with a charter and everything. The British version has, I think, done a reasonable job of pestering government whenever they talk jibberish, and has attracted lots of media attention. They even have a cool online "Drivel Defence" software. Might have to see how some aid projects fare!

Alanna Sheikh also has a great series of posts on the subject here.

Incidentally, the word gobbledygook, meaning nonsensical language, was coined by Maury Maverick actually referring to civil service jargon. Maury was also the grandson of cattle rancher Samuel Maverick who coined the term "maverick" because he didn't brand his cattle.


Matt said...

Ooops, sorry Lee, the post was by my mate Ranil, with whom I share the blog (we're always looking for contributors if you feel like writing a spin-off roving bandit series). Didn't have authors listed on post pages; fixed now.

Lee said...


Ranil Dissanayake said...

glad you liked the post! I like the idea of Plain English-style campaign. We should be much stricter about how these words are used. They do have specific meanings, it's just that they're applied at random. I just spent yesterday compiling a list of activities funded by donors in Zanzibar, and the number of times these words came up was astonishing. Next step is to look at the project documents and see if they merit this usage...

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