ERIC Number: ED334583
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1991-Feb
Reference Count: N/A
Plain Language for Expert or Lay Audiences: Designing Text Using Protocol-Aided Revision. Technical Report No. 46.
Schriver, Karen A.
This paper recognizes that critics of the "plain language movement" point out that what is "plain" to one audience may mystify and confuse another. It adds that questions such as "Plain language for whom?" and "How can we know whether a text is written in plain language?" raise legitimate concerns about the danger of ignoring the fact that what is "plain" is relative to the particular audience reading and/or using a text. The paper addresses these questions by illustrating a concrete and empirically tested procedure for revising texts to meet the needs of expert or lay audiences. Specifically, the paper details protocol-aided revision--a procedure which employs readers' responses to texts to guide revision activity--and demonstrates why actual reader feedback is the most sensible and effective criterion for deciding whether a text is written in plain language. It provides two case studies of texts that were revised for comprehensibility using protocol-aided revision, underscoring the point that plain language is more than verbal text alone; it includes effective integration of visual and verbal text. The paper also presents a cognitive model of the process of protocol-aided revision. The paper may interest both proponents and critics of plain language because it argues for a redefinition of plain language and suggests a method for assessing if plain language goals have been met. Nine figures of original texts, user protocols, protocol aided revisions, and sample reading protocols are included, and 57 references are attached. (Author/PRA)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Center for the Study of Writing, Berkeley, CA.; Center for the Study of Writing, Pittsburgh, PA.