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One of my passions is clear, simple language. Jargon dominates many public policy discussions and I’m compiling a list of examples here.

The Local Government Association of England has clearly surpassed my meager list. They have compiled 100 banned words and phrases, released to coincide with Plain English Day 2007. The puffery and euphemisms include:

  • coterminosity
  • empowerment
  • multidisciplinary
  • place shaping
  • sustainable communities

“… unless local authorities talk to people in a language that they can understand then the work they do becomes inaccessible and reduces the chances of them getting involved in their local issues,” said Chairman of the Local Government Association, Sir Simon Milton. On a BBC interview, an LGA representative joked that public officials who use these terms should be fined.

Simon Wakeman, a fellow PR consultant in England, carries a good analysis of public policy jargon and the list of 100 “non-words.”

“The challenge for those who work in communications in local government is that most communications don’t come through the professional communicators,” Wakeman writes. “Getting standards to the same level across the organisation needs a different set of skills and the ability to network effectively – to get non-communicators to communicate more effectively and act as a champion of plain English.”

That’s as true in Idaho as it is in England.