ERIC Number: ED211960
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Oct
Reference Count: 0
Making the Unreadable Readable: From "Legalese" to Plain Language.
Welle, Dorothy W.; Farber, Frances D.
The regulations that emerge from governmental departments have been framed in legal language by lawyers to withstand onslaught in case by case determinations. From a judicial context, lawyers may rightfully contend that the concepts of the law are bound up in legal terms, and therefore the technical language of the profession should remain unchanged. The consumer movement, however, wants readable and easily understood legal documents. The problem is that there is no yardstick against which to measure revised legal documents. A number of options have been suggested, but they, too, are not without problems. Readability formulas provide no measure of the number of abstract words used, the technical vocabulary used, and transformation complexity--any of which might increase the reading difficulty of the document. While a panel of experts might possibly agree on objective measures, the expense of convening such a panel would be prohibitive. General guidelines might permit a flexible approach, but are not very helpful to those who are embroiled in rewriting documents. And, while explicit guidelines would be very helpful, current research in document design reveals the difficulty of formulating such precise guidelines. The best option appears to be the pilot testing of a document on a sample of consumers, although the cost would make this approach impractical. (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Legal Vocabulary; Revision (Written Composition)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the College Reading Association (Louisville, KY, October 29-31, 1981).