Users prefer PL. Users locate information faster the communication… Users prefer PL. Users locate information faster the communication is in PL. PL documents are easier to update. PL principles can be used to train employees to write more clearly and con- cisely. PL documents are more cost-effective. Although many positive reasons can be cited for adopting PL principles, PL man- dates have been criticized for lacking a clear definition, being too difficult for agen-cies to adopt, missing the ability to be enforced, not applying to regulations drafted by Congress, and being too costly to put into practice (Baldwin, 1998; Banoff & Lipton, 2010; Byrne, 2008; Mazur, 2000; Scott, 2010). Hagge and Kostelnick (1989) also clarify that writers may violate PL principles for “good reasons” (p. 313). In particular, Hagge and Kostelnick discovered w le conducting a textual analysis study that a bureaucratic organization they refer to as “The Firm” continually violated accepted business communication principles “for a reason: in response to the complex demands of delicate interactional situations” (p. 313). Specifically, auditors in “The Firm” continually avoided the use of nominalizations, used passive verbs that impersonalized it by deleting agents of action, hedged phrases, and violated many other principles in an effort to “minimize potential impositions on clients by playing down ‘The Firm’s recommendations” (p. 317). In other words, Hagge and Kostelnick explain that in violating the principles, the writers were actually using linguistic politeness strategies to avoid unnecessary confrontations with their client. Other reasons can also contribute to why writers may choose to break princi- ples. For example, Banoff and Lipton (2010) contend that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may not comply with the Plain Writing Act for four reasons. First, IRS writers may not be able to write the tax code in plain language, based on the acknowledgement of the courts that the “Code is incomprehensive without the assistance of a qualified expert in tax law” (p. 382). Second, IRS writers may be able to use a loophole in that the law that requires documents to be written to “the intended audience” since the “the intended audience” of tax returns may be tax advisors and tax return preparer, not the public. Finally, the act may not be enforceable since there will be no judicial review of compliance or noncompliance with any provision of the Act, nor an opportunity for administrative or judicial action (Banoff & Lipton, 2010). In summary, the Plain Writing Act may be difficult, if not impossible, to apply in some documents and/or organizations. The introduction and application of communication principles can also present challenges to the effected organizations. As Suchan (2006) explains, “efforts to get workers to change significantly their communication practices often fail” (p. 5). According to Suchan, t s failure is a direct result of consultants and internal commu- nication specialists viewing the new communication strategies and principles as sim-ply new communication skills rather than “altering the way workers habitually t nk and talk about communication” (p. 5). Despite the challenges of implementing PL, educators should take the lead in educating current and future employees by introducing students to terms and principles of PL. However, before PL principles can be integrated into the business communication curriculum, instructors and students should become familiar with the story of the PL movement story of Plain Language A brief overview of the contemporary interest in PL and the recent scope of PL initia- tives canfoundation for understanding current PL principles. In t s section, I trace the story of PL in United States, recent mandates, and developments in busi- nesses and scholar support. Communication scholars have traced contemporary interest in PL to former U.S. Representative Maury Maverick when he wrote a memorandum dated March 24, 1944, as Chairman of the smaller War Plants Corporation to everyone in the corpora- tion requesting that lengthy memoranda and “gobbledygook” be replaced by short and clear memoranda (Maverick, 1944, para. 1). Specifically, Maverick requested that, employees “stay off gobbledygook language. It only fouls people up” (para. 3). In an effort to emphasize s point, Maverick coined the term gobbledygook from “t nking of the old bearded turkey gobbler back in Texas who was always gobbled-gobbling and strutting with ridiculous pomposity. At the end of s gobble there was a sort of gook” (Rawson, 1989, p. 174). On March 30, 1944, Kluttz (1944) published anedito-rial in The Was ngton Post declaring the memorandum Maverick (1944) wrote as the “most refres ng-and effective, I predict-memo ever written in the Federal service” and stating that the “President would be wise if he took Maury’s memo and issued it as an order to all federal agencies” (p. 3). Despite the appeal, President Roosevelt did not take any actions regarding the memo. No further events regarding PL occurred until 1953 when Stuart Chase (an American economist and engineer) attempted to continue the PL campaign when he wrote The Power of Words, Which included a chapter dedicated to gobbledygook (Redish, 1985; Schriver, 1991). In that chapter, Chase detailed Maverick’s campaign to end gobbledygook, ghlighted examples of gobbledygook, and provided suggestions to reduce the “gobble. Despite Chase’s efforts, scholarly reviewers in linguistics and science overlooked the gobbledygook chapter (Birdw stell, 1955; Hoijer, 1954). No reported changes took place in business or government writing as a result of Chase’s book. An official call for PL did not gain momentum until the 1970s, when President Nixon required that the Federal Register be written in “layman’s terms” (Dorney, 1988). Congress passed several acts and regulations that required warranties, leases, and banking transfers to be clear and readable. Specific legislation included the Magnuson-Moss Warranty- Federal Trade Commission Act (1973), the Consumer Leasing Act (1976), and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (1978). One federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission, issued regulations for Citizens Band Radios in PL (Locke, 2004) PL initiatives continued in 1978 when President Carter issued an executive order requiring government agencies to reduce the costs and burdens of federal paperwork by making “regulations as clear and simple as possible” (Executive Order No. 12,044, 1978, para. 1). In 1979, Carter issued a second executive order that required agencies to keep forms “as short as possible (w le] elicit[ing] information in a simple, straightforward fas on” (Executive Order 12,174, 1979, para. 2). However, only a few agencies responded to these orders. In 1981 both orders were rescinded when President Reagan signed Executive Order 12,291 in an effort to reduce government regulation. Nevertheless, some agencies continued to simplify their documents, and eight state governments passed statutes requiring state documents to be written in PL (Schriver, 1991). MAKE A SUMMARY AND PROVIDE INTEXT CITATION Health Science BA 126
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Users prefer PL. Users locate information faster the communication… U
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