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Letter: Please Use Plain English – Not Gobbledegook

Published on: 27 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 27 Jan, 2017

From Liz Critchfield

In response to the article: Regeneration Strategy for Guildford Town Centre Approved

What a wonderful language English is. Given a reasonable vocabulary and a modest understanding of grammar, it is possible to put forward ideas clearly and unambiguously. Why, then, do our elected representatives resort to using phrases that have to be explained?

I particularly enjoyed “modal shift”. Apparently it means persuading people to walk, cycle or use public transport and, oh joy, will require a “culture shift”. Thankfully no one is going to use a silver bullet to coerce us onto modal shift, merely “create the capacity to bring modal shift into our current network”.

I would call on councillors, and anyone else involved in planning matter, to please present their ideas in straightforward prose, without recourse to, what I will politely call, gobbledegook.

We do of course have to bear in mind the possibility that the use of such convoluted language is intended to cause the glazing over of eyes and general loss of the will to live. Moribund residents are so much easier to dupe, after all.

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Responses to Letter: Please Use Plain English – Not Gobbledegook

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    January 27, 2017 at 5:42 pm

    It is enjoyable though, if you read it with a sense of humour. My interpretation of the “modal shift” statement (particularly – create capacity and current network) is that road space will be taken away from drivers to provide more bus lanes – and existing pavements will have lines painted on them, along with some signs, so that mums with young children to control can be terrorised by speeding cyclists.

    The good news is that drivers will not be forced out of their cars at gunpoint (I imagine there are not enough resources for that in these times of austerity).

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    January 28, 2017 at 11:09 am

    I wholeheartedly support Liz Critchfield in this plea. For too long certain residents of Guildford, nay England, have used their linguistic “skill” to try and confuse the rest of us who lack knowledge of the Gobble language.

    It would be good if the Gobbledygook linguists could consider us poor English-speaking monoglots.

  3. Harry Eve Reply

    January 29, 2017 at 10:39 am

    The use of gobbledegook is akin to a magician’s use of the art of deception.

    Another trick is to bombard your audience with figures and tables in the hope that they will not look too closely. Conjure up a model and the trick is complete.

    In the case of the SHMA the magician refuses to reveal his secrets.

    The council leadership would love to “make the lady vanish” but their efforts have been exasperating and a disgrace.

    They should also remember that the audience are applauding the lady and booing them. The pantomime continues.

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