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Friday, November 2, 2012

Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs | 'One cup of frothy coffee, please': UK store ditches confusing lingo'

Blame it on Starbucks, the espresso-brewing giant of a coffee company based in my city of Seattle, Washington, USA. Though it started with relatively simple terms (decades ago) for naming coffee drinks, Starbucks has become the worldwide leader in coming up with other terms and new terms for its expanding list of drinks.

Latte or mocha. OK, that's easy. Short or tall. OK, easy too. Same with espresso. They're almost self-explanatory. But then there are cappuccino and macchiato and Americano. Though not unique to Starbucks, they likely need some explanation for some folks.

But what about mocha valencia, espresso con panna, frappuccino, breve, and venti (larger than grande)? Are the words for those concoctions the unique concoctions of Starbucks?

So it was fun to see recently all the articles about a business in the United Kingdom that's attempting to use plain language--clear, concise words--to name and describe its coffee drinks.

Today's issue of Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs features several articles on the topic. My daily online paper is available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

I also found this website about Starbucks' drinks. Its self-description:
Since many people seem to be overly confused by the wide variety of options available at Starbucks, I've put together this handy-dandy page to help you figure out what you want without spending hours staring blankly at a menu. It's huge, but that's because there's a lot to choose from, and I've tried to include as much as possible. Of course, a lot of this stuff is trademarked by Starbucks Coffee Co. Drink availability will vary by location.
For more information and advice on clear, concise writing, visit Garbl's Plain English Writing Guide. It describes seven steps for improving your writing skills:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.

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