We are fans of the Center for Plain Language, founded by a longtime federal employee who got sick of all the crazy and convoluted writing she encountered on the job.
NPR carried a story yesterday about a new award her organization is handing out. Here's an excerpt of the "winning" language--which appears on the form the Department of Homeland Security gives to people entering the country.
As the NPR story says, "The person who nominated the form sums it up like this: 'Welcome to the United States -- you diseased, crazy, drugged-out, criminal, lying, spying child abuser!'"
Read the rest of the article here. (And thanks to Erin Redd for sending it.)
We do, of course, have some thoughts on where this writing gets its start. When we taught at a private high school, some of the smartest kids embraced this horrible style--and they were rewarded for it. You have to be smart to use all those big words, right? One student in particular went ballistic when we suggested how she might simplify her paper. She thought the result made her sound "stupid." Last we heard, she is now a law student.
Bigger words are not necessarily better words when it comes to writing. Simple, clear sentences really work.