Plain English around the world
Efforts to use plain English - and plain language in non-English speaking countries - exist around the world. They involve a broad spectrum of pressure groups, government agencies, voluntary organisations and private companies.
Here are some examples of the main movements overseas.
The European Commission has launched a new Clear Writing campaign to encourage staff to write more clearly and make all types of documents, in all languages, shorter
and simpler. The campaign aims to improve the EU's image, legal accuracy and make it more efficient, particularly as documents need to be produced in 23 official
languages. It has produced a guide for staff on writing clearly
and even a campaign song, which you can see performed on YouTube.
The Canadian government refers specifically to plain language in its 2012 communications policy, saying "To ensure clarity and consistency of information,
plain language and proper grammar must be used in all communication with the public."
In Finland there have been very positive developments in plain English in 2011. The new Finish Government have promised to promote plain English in legislation, administration and communication with their citizens.
In Australia, laws on income tax and road safety have been put into plain English and much of the movement towards using clearer language has come from state government and the legal profession.
In the UK, the plain English movement has existed since the late 1970s. Many government offices, such as the Office of Fair Trading, have encouraged the spread of plain language by requiring it in certain consumer contracts. The other main actors in plain English include local authorities, health services and large financial corporations.
In Mexico, the government's Citizens' Language project aims to make government regulations more understandable to citizens. The project is designed to make it easier for citizens and public servants to complete their business easily, securely and quickly.