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Posts Tagged ‘jargon’

Talking in riddles

Unfortunately local government is often characterised in negative terms.  Councils are depicted as overly bureaucratic, and one part of the sterotyped image is that we speak a language all of our own.   The use of jargon by the council was one of the issues that was discussed at last week’s wider management team meeting (see the forum and library for more information) in the context of improving how we engage with residents. 

There’s no doubt that this is a very important issue because, given that there are many other barriers to stop people getting involved, the language that we use in our reports and publications is entirely within our gift.  In other words, it is something that we can change and the commitment to make our documents clear and easy to understand is likely to broaden out into other aspects of how we work with residents.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves.  Local government is by no means the only area of life where language can be obscure.  Take the following extract from a restaurant review in this week’s New Yorker magazine,

‘A hearty nicois ravioli contained rich, delicious oxtail, but the accompanying Swiss chard was tiresomely vegetal; the chestnut cappelletti was filled with an indistinct mash, but the burnished duck ragout underneath, infused with sweet onion and mushroom, was heaven.’

The good news is that after the shock of the vegetal chard, the evening ended well with a ‘gooey chocolate fondant with ricotta-almond gelato’  i.e. some chocolate pudding and ice-cream

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