Category Archives: Plain English

SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP

  I spent my schooldays staring the glass out of the windows. The poverty of expectation suffocated aspiration. The punitive discipline blunted everything about us. Teachers yawned their way through lessons. I had been imprisoned for a crime I had not committed. I hid from bullies and sports masters in music and art rooms, inventing [...]

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Why stories matter

If there isn’t something to oppose or resolve it isn’t a story.

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Apostrophegeddon

Writing is not about rules, but communicating ideas. Any company that rejects a job application because of a misplaced apostrophe is barking up the wrong tree. The most original thinkers I work with struggle to tie their shoelaces.

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Sorry tale

These printed apologies demonstrate one thing very clearly – when a company has its back against the wall it turns to words not pictures.

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The noise of waters

The Thames Water van was on a street nearby. ‘We love water’ suggests these providers of London-based aquatic solutions are making a noble effort to sound friendly and engaging.

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Buskers told to Foxtrot Oscar

‘Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.’

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Tis as human a little story

Designers don’t always limit themselves to pure function; why should copywriters restrict themselves to functional language?

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Could be foggy

The English language in America is fog-bound. This is hellish serious, more serious than who will be the next Republican nominee for the Presidency

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Some problems with ‘tone of voice’

Public bodies should only launch anti-jargon ‘campaigns’, ‘drives’, ‘initiatives’ and ‘guides’ if they really are trying to make a lasting improvement to their language.

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A blazing star

Despite the anti-popery, there’s something Bellocose about Lewes Bonfire’s combination of dark fuming and expressive zest, this farrago of black powders. Effigies of ‘Enemies of Bonfire’ – usually local officials – are paraded on pikes, but there’s also a sense of togetherness and vitality.

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