Planning cliches: is jargon is the enemy?

There are few things as depressing as wading through documents that refuse to use sentences that run for less than two pages, or spout vague clichés, or spout vague clichés that run for two pages. Root canals, maybe.

PAS may be doing its bit to crack down on unnecessary jargon with things like the plan making manual, which follows the mantra ‘a good explanation is worth a thousand clichés’, but there are still those guilty of some shameless verbal diarrhoea.

The Plain English Campaign has some real ringers, including this enlightening description from one government department which proves that a container by any other name would be just as confusing:

”Container’, in relation to an investigational medicinal product, means the bottle, jar, box, packet or other receptacle which contains or is to contain it, not being a capsule, cachet or other article in which the product is or is to be administered, and where any such receptacle is or is to be contained in another such receptacle, includes the former but does not include the latter receptacle.’

But as Martyn Allison pointed out in an article arguing the pros and cons of plain English (when he was the IDeA’s national advisor for culture and sport): councils often complain that gross simplification means that the public misunderstand and fail to comprehend the difficult and complex problems they deal with.

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