“Clear Writing” in Languages and Translation, issue September 2010

clear-writing-in-languages-and-translation-issue-september-20101Authors: Directorate-General for Translation, European Commission

The new Clear Writing campaign was successfully launched in March 2010 and will run for most of the year, culminating in a report with recommendations on sustainable action.

When the idea of a new campaign was mooted, one reason was the recent recruitment of new officials (from the 12 new Member States that joined the EU from 2004 onwards). This major EU enlargement was a fantastic achievement for democracy and for Europe, but it brought two problems for drafting in the Commission: the continued rise of bad English as the Commission’s lingua franca, and the massive influx of new staff who naturally adopted the prevailing in-house style, rather than trying to reform it.

So the new campaign would have to raise awareness and provide practical ‘quick-fix’ aids to clear writing, offering a larger access to more kinds of training, and generally promoting the idea that important texts should be revised by a native speaker (preferably a trained editor) before they go public.