Plain English policy

Do you have one of these? What is the stupidest word you have been told you can't use because of it?

Me - administer

I have one because I draft a lot of operational Standard Operating Procedures.  Most of these are used by processing engineers in Energy from Waste facilities.

I'm amending one now and one of my favourite people in my team has filled it with  "nugatory", and "disconsonant"... It's a process for reviewing a critical event... i.e when a turbine wobbles...

administer though.... I think my guys would get that ;)


I used to get a telling off for the use of "the same"

I love "nugatory", and when it is combined with "obsfucation" I tend to do a little sex wee.

We don't have a firm one but I have my own unofficial policy of not using daft pompous legal terms when dealing with people who probably won't understand.

There's a time and a place for plain English.  Some things just don't work in plain speech because you have to provide lengthy narrative for a concept which is neatly encapsulated in (say) Latin.  For example, "mutatis mutandis".  It's a hell of a lot more wordy to say what this means than to just use the damned Latin.

I wrote our firm’s one. Well I nicked someone else’s one and changed words here and there. Moved paras around. Job done.

Then it was roundly ignored. I can’t write anything lawesque without deploying inter alia. It’s SOP. It would be wholly intolerable if clients actually understood anything their lawyer wrote.

I have gone from recoiling in horror (or at least perplexity) at the word "operationalize" to using it myself. :(

I used operationalise just today. I loathe myself for doing so, but it was needed for the recipients (audit types) who just love that sort of vvankspeak. 

I know what you're saying Badders, but "mutatis mutandis" can usually be boiled down to "with the necessary changes" - only two more words.

I also get that some clients may dig these incantations with their advice. 

Indiscriminate use of "shall" is a bit annoying: where it could mean either "will", "must", or "may". It creates uncertainty as to whether an obligation is being imposed. 

"Operationalise" seems up there with the use of "architect" as a verb, Ivanka style.   


Not really, "mutatis mutandis" is more "making the necessary changes whilst not altering the main substance/point".  True, you could define it, but why bother when it already has an accepted and perfectly fitting legal meaning?

I thought mutatis mutandis meant "it would work in the same way if those things changed"

no wonder I didn't get into cambridge

I don't speak, read or write Latin.

I'll consider myself uneducated.

Chambo is a true man of the people. Vox populi, vox dei


I didn't get into Cambridge either.  Nor can I speak or write Latin.  Other than some liturgical stuff I picked up from being into a choir (like, "please don't come in my mouth this time, Father).

Chambo obviously needs to go and get a proper educashun.  

aut disce aut discede

I have a fairly good education Dal. What's Latin for the university of life?

Dunno Badders, I agree it may vary depending on the context, but consider these two examples. What’s really lost by deleting the content of the square brackets?

“In the event of the death of one of the Parties due to polar bear attack, clause (iii) regulating the Parties’ organ donation will remain in force, mutatis mutandis.

“In the event of the death of one of the Parties due to polar bear attack, clause (iii) regulating the Parties’ organ donation will remain in force, with the necessary changes, [whilst not altering the main substance of that clause].