ACW

ACW

Sunday, 29 April 2018

CLARITY - SHOULD IT BE NEXT TO GODLINESS?


Image Credit:  All images are via Pixabay

I know the saying states cleanliness is next to godliness but writers should have clarity beside it instead.
Clarity - should it be next to godliness instead of cleanliness?  I think so!
I’ve recently discovered the joys of the Plain English Campaign’s “goobledygook generator”.  You click the relevant box and actual examples of gobbledydook come up.  See http://www.plainenglish.co.uk/gobbledygook-generator.html and have fun clicking the box!

“It's time that we became uber-efficient with our knowledge-based logistical paradigm shifts.”

Would anyone care to translate this garbage? It is not the worst example either. 

How about “It's time to revamp and reboot our optional incremental programming.”?

Something needs rebooting here. I would say whoever came up with that needs reminding (and often I suspect) that the primary purpose of language is to communicate clearly. How do we get through to the culprits more words does not necessarily mean better communication?
Clarity of thought should lead to clarity of expression
So we should say what we mean to say in as clear a manner as possible then.  Jesus’s parables are wonderful examples of storytelling and there is no doubt as to their clarity! Keep it simple is a good guideline to help achieve clear writing.

One advantage of writing flash fiction (which is my other writing “hat”) is it teaches you to write succinctly as there’s no room for anything not crucial to the story.  Having to write to meet the demands of flash fiction carries over into other creative work, which is no bad thing. I’ve found it has shown me what my “wasted” words are.  Mine are “very” and “actually” and I will be going through this piece carefully to make sure there are none here, other than those obviously!
Editing is a vital tool in the campaign to be clear.
You would think clarity would be a “given” for anyone working with words, but the fact the Plain English Campaign exists proves otherwise, unfortunately.  Punctuation and grammar are key to making meaning clear.  Ironically, it is dreadful examples of those things which show this point up the most. It is nearly always those who are trying to "beef up" their communications who are the worst culprits.

My favourite recent example of grammatical inaccuracy was on social media and showed a magazine headline claiming “X loves cooking her family and her pets”.  No commas, whatsoever.  Should X invite me to dinner, I’m turning it down.  I would suggest you do the same or pick X’s vegetarian option!
Love the idea of a new world emerging from what we write but it must be clearly set up!
Oh, and to finish, how about, “This is no time to bite the bullet with our facilitating modular matrix approaches.”.

Of course it isn’t.  There is never time for biting the bullet with cliches and what someone thinks sounds important but is just nonsense.

There is a place for nonsense writing and for me that’s in the wonderful verse of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and the like.  Those great writers knew what they were doing and were happily playing with words, which is a joy to do.  The contributors to the gobbledygook generator are merely mangling and crushing all meaning out of the words they are using.  Shakespeare would turn in his grave.

We can follow no better example than our Lord's when it comes to simple, clear storytelling.

The world is becoming smaller due to technology but this makes clarity even more essential









3 comments:

  1. I had a lot of fun clicking on the gobbledy-gook generator! And now I really really want one of these diplomas: 'We now offer diplomas in regenerated policy projections.' Whatever they are.

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  2. This is brilliant and so true Allison! The educational world is full of this gobbledy gook these days and it drives me mad! I guess that kind of terminology makes people feel part of something but I agree that it shuts most people out. Clarity is definitely the best policy!

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  3. Many thanks, Fran and Deborah.

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