Google’s T&Cs harder to read than Beowulf

Beowulf.firstpageFollowing on from past posts about readability – Translating through the fog; and The Writer’s Diet test; as well as a great guest post on Lessons in powerful writing (from a lawyer…) – last week I came across some new text analysis software in an article about a browser plug-in called Literatin, which provides a Simple Measure of Gobbledygook (SMOG) score.

Researchers from the University of Nottingham have calculated that the updated version of Google’s latest terms and conditions is harder to read than Beowulf or War and Peace. 😉

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Plain language in Denmark

Following my recent post on plain language in Portugal, and yesterday’s posts on the RELINE annual seminar, today I’d like to introduce you to Lene Rosenmeier, a lawyer, journalist and lecturer on clear writing, and Anne Kjærgaard from the Danish Language Council. In this 10-minute video, they talk about the plain language tradition in Denmark, and in particular about legal language. The tongue-in-cheek film editing is by Morten Rosenmeier. 🙂

The seminar mentioned in the video is going to be held in Danish. A summary may be provided in English at a later date.

Note: If anyone is interested in joining the RELINE Special Interest Group on plain language, the network is international, so those from other countries would be welcome. Contact: Lene Rosenmeier

On the subject of plain language, I would like to invite contributions from people from other countries to post about their national situation. I am happy to present all opinions – whether for or against the simplification of legal language.

Plain language in Portugal

I watched this excellent TEDx talk some time ago, but mentioning it to someone recently reminded me that you might be interested. As you may know through the blog, my position on plain legal language is somewhat mixed – due to concerns about precision and expert interpretation. However, I certainly do agree with improving accessibility.

Sandra Fisher-Martins runs Português Claro, a training and consultancy firm that introduced plain language in Portugal and has been helping Portuguese companies and government agencies communicate clearly since 2007.

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‘Business-ese’ may be worse than legalese

I don’t fully agree with plain language campaigns as regards legal documents – I guess I go along with those who say that the law has to be precise enough and should be interpreted by experts – i.e. lawyers and the judiciary rather than non-specialists – but I certainly think that a lot can be (and is being) done to make legal language more accessible where possible.

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