ERIC Number: ED214371
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Sep
The Language of the Bureaucracy. Document Design Project, Technical Report No. 15.
Redish, Janice C.
The status and future of bureaucratic language is explored and four specific issues are addressed: (1) the characteristics of bureaucratic writing; (2) how it developed and what keeps it from changing; (3) where pressures for change come from; and (4) what can be done to foster greater literacy in bureaucratic writing among both writers and users of public documents. Bureaucratic writing that is difficult to understand has three major stylistic problems: it is nominal, full of jargon, and legalistic. In addition, there are problems with context, organization, headings and tables of contents, audience needs, and complexified language. The origin of the complexity is due to eight factors: the legal tradition, impersonal government philosophy, institutional inertia, traditional models, social prestige, time pressures, the review process, and lack of training. Pressure for simplification can come from many sectors. If the language is simplified and made more comprehensible the paperwork burden on all will be reduced, and compliance with government rules may be increased. While the problem needs to be addressed on several levels at the same time, instructors in advanced composition can train future writers of such documents. (AMH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences, Washington, DC.
Note: Paper presented at the Conference on Literacy in the 1980s (Ann Arbor, MI, June 24-27, 1981).