As we watch our state lawmakers search for the proper English to use in requiring all drivers tests to be given only in English instead of the dozen or so languages now used, we are offering various kinds of English from our large collection of samples accumulated through a long career in reporting.
Today we offer Bureaucratese for the consideration of legislators who need to avoid imprecision in writing our laws lest they set off years of litigation that will only delay implementation of important laws.
John Addyman, who works with a company in Albany, NY, wrote on “The Perils of Pontification” in a publication for school boards. Here’s one example of Bureaucratic English:
“Our school’s cross-graded, multi-ethnic, individualized learning program is designed to enhance the concept of an open-ended learning program with emphasis on a continuum of multi-ethnic, academically enriched learning using the identified intellectually gifted child as the agent or director of his own learning.”
Here’s another example that we picked up somewhere:
“The unique enrichment rate at which the qualitative residual subsidiary can effect an overall utilized executive balance depends, in part, on the maximum professional integrity of the encumbered technological thrust.”
A national newsletter for English teachers a few years ago cited an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) definition of “exit” as being “that portion of a means of egress which is separated from all other spaces of the building or structure by construction or equipment as required in this subpart to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.”
And finally we go back to 1978 and a cartoon we saved done by the late Jeff MacNelly showing President Carter issuing a clear language executive order to federal agencies. It reads:
“Therefore, by the power vested in me, I hereby order all Federal Agencies to henceforth write all regulations in clear, understandable English since the intratransmission of intertransfactional realities and information modes impacts directionally on societal crossrelationships in terms of mobilitational transferences of reflected, refracted, and didactic inputs of resource-related techniques and rhomboidal counteractional thrust in terms of interpretive combivulent bivationary falvebarms…”
We have more but offering any more would only heap more scorn on hordes of innocent but essential people who spend their lives in service to us. Most of them are common, plain-spoken folks. But there are always a few who provide us with new ammunition.
Is the English of those few the model for the English we should use in our English-only drivers’ exams?
Stay with the Missourinet, through our affiliates and our various places on the internet, as we see how our lawmakers answer this challenge.