A Plea for Plain English

The English language has, within a lifetime, emerged as the ubiquitous ‘international language’ of scientific, political and technical communication. On the one hand, learning a single, common language, International English, has made it much easier to participate in and adopt new technologies; on the other hand it must be exasperating to have to use English at international conferences, or on community sites, when your own language has a long tradition of scientific and technical usage. It is also hard to master the subtleties of using a foreign language to explain advanced ideas.

This requires English speakers to be more considerate in their writing. Even if you’re used to speaking English, you may be brought up short by this sort of verbiage…

Business Intelligence delivering actionable insights is becoming more critical in the enterprise, and these insights require large data volumes for trending and forecasting

It takes some imagination to appreciate the added hassle in working out what it means, when English is a language you only use at work. Try, just to get a vague feel for it, using Google Translate to translate it from English to Chinese and back again.

Providing actionable business intelligence point of view is becoming more and more and more business critical, and requires that these insights and projected trends in large amounts of data

Not easy eh? If you normally use a different language, you will need to pause for thought before finally working out that it really means …

Every Business Intelligence solution must be able to help companies to make decisions. In order to detect current trends, and accurately predict future ones, we need to analyze large volumes of data

Surely, it is simple politeness for English speakers to stop peppering their writing with a twisted vocabulary that renders it inaccessible to everyone else.

It isn’t just the problem of writers who use long words to give added dignity to their prose. It is the use of Colloquial English. This changes and evolves at a dizzying rate, adding new terms and idioms almost daily; it is almost a new and separate language. By contrast, ‘International English’, is gradually evolving separately, at its own, more sedate, pace. As such, all native English speakers need to make an effort to learn, and use it, switching from casual colloquial patter into a simpler form of communication that can be widely understood by different cultures, even if it gives you less credibility on the street.

Simple-Talk is based, at least in part, on the idea that technical articles can be written simply and clearly in a form of English that can be easily understood internationally, and that they can be written, with a little editorial help, by anyone, and read by anyone, regardless of their native language.