Friday, January 31, 2014

Congrats to the Michigan Bar Journal’s Plain Language Column: 30 Years!

The January 2014 issue of the Michigan Bar Journal celebrates this anniversary of the column with a fascinating retrospective by Joe Kimble, who has edited the column for 26 of those years. His predecessor was the column’s founder, the legendary George Hathaway. In this column, Joe lists the objections to the plain English style:

• Plain language is baby talk, or

Dick-and-Jane style. It dumbs down.

• Plain language is dull and drab.

• Plain language is all about simple

words and short sentences.

• Plain language is less precise than

traditional legal style (it’s actually

more precise).

• Legalese is required by law—

statutes or regulations or precedent.

• Some ideas are too complex for

plain language.

Nonsense. He also supplies a point/counterpoint of arguments for and against plain English. Guess which side has the better arguments. You can read more here.


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