Saturday, October 6, 2012

Many will Mark International Plain Language Day Oct 13 with Clarity | PRLog

Celebrations are planned around the world to mark advances made this year in clear language and design for consumer and public communication on the 2nd International Plain Language Day October 13, 2012.
Cheryl Stephens, a leader in the movement and an expert in plain legal language:
Vancouver and Calgary have proclaimed International Plain Language Day October 13. We are hoping people in other cities will ask their mayors to do the same.
October 13 is a significant date in the world of plain language. We chose this date - the anniversary of the U.S. Plain Writing Act - to celebrate hard-won achievements in many countries and the talented people who are making information materials understandable and usable.
Kate Harrison Whiteside, a social media and plain language consultant:
We started the international plain language network and conferencing in the early '90s using only email and Web pages. Now, we’ll use the social web to get worldwide support for this important movement.
Stephens and Whiteside formed the Plain Language Network in 1993. Now called the Plain Language Association InterNational, the growing volunteer nonprofit organization includes plain-language advocates, professionals, and organizations committed to plain language.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Minimalism Quotes … Through the Centuries | Joshua Becker, Becoming Minimalist

If one’s life is simple, contentment has to come. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness. Having few desires, feeling satisfied with what you have, is very vital: satisfaction with just enough food, clothing, and shelter to protect yourself from the elements. 
The Dalai Lama said that. It's among the quotations listed in Becker's article. Here's how Becker introduces his blog:
Voluntary simplicity (and/or minimalism) is certainly not new. In fact, it has been practiced and encouraged for thousands of years … literally. Just consider the following men and women who have advocated for a lifestyle of minimalism.
While I appreciate and strive for simplicity in my life, I especially value it in writing. Clear, concise writing is important to achieve if you want people to read things you write and respond in a desirable way. For more advice on simplicity in writing, check out these websites of mine:
My Concise Writing Guide also includes Words of Wisdom about simplicity in writing.

Here are a few more quotations from Becker's list that I appreciated:
1936. Tom Robbins. “Any half-awake materialist well knows – that which you hold holds you.”
1911. E.F. Schumacher. “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.”
1900. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
1879. Albert Einstein. “Make things as simple as possible but no simpler.”
1879. Will Rogers. “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.”
1872. Bertrand Russell. “It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.”
1828. Leo Tolstoy. “There is no greatness where there is not simplicity, goodness, and truth.”
1817. Henry David Thoreau. “Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Things do not change, we change. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.”
469 BCE. Socrates. “The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”
500 BCE. Lao Tzu. “Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
563 BCE. Buddha. “To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”
___
This article is highlighted today (Oct. 4) in Garbl's Simple Dreams--available at the Simplicity tab above and by free email subscription.

On Awakening, Oct. 4, 2012

Sunrise photo of Cascade Mountains from my home in West Seattle
That's the view I saw when I walked into my study this morning. Taken from our home on Gatewood Hill in West Seattle, Washington. Looking east toward the Cascade Mountains. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

7 Ways To Stimulate Your Capacity For Creativity | Don Peppers, Fast Company

Peppers begins his article with a joke and follows it by describing experiences that stimulate creativity.

He explains that creativity depends on the context in which a person experiences it or manages it or tries to stimulate it.

He writes:
Your most creative insights are almost always the result of taking an idea that works in one domain and applying it to another. Every “new” idea you have, personally, is based on some combination of previous concepts in your own mind, even if you combined these concepts subconsciously. ...
You become more creative when you violate the context of your own expectations. So if you want to generate more innovative ideas, then you should purposely expose your mind to radically different facts and unusual, often conflicting concepts. ...
And then he lists the "hands on" creativity stimulators promised in the headline. I've used most of them at times but especially appreciated this one:
Drive a different route to work or school, or to church, or to the club. Take a long cut, on purpose.
I learned to do that as a reporter/photographer for a daily newspaper. Our editor made a similar suggestion not so much to stimulate our creativity but to be more observant, to be on the look out for potential news.

But the result is similar: We open our minds to new things to write about, to new ways of doing things.

You can find more advice and ideas about this topic at Garbl's Creativity Resources OnlineAlso check the Creativity tab above for daily editions of Garbl's Creativity Connections.

A Reason to Get Your Heart Broken: Unblocking Creative Flow | Maria Popova - The Atlantic

Popova's article gives examples of what designer/musician Alex Cornell discovered when he asked artists, designers, writer and other creative thinkers how they deal with "creative block." Cornell published their responses in Breakthrough! 90 Proven Strategies to Overcome Creative Block and Spark Your Imagination.

Popova writes:
From the many specific strategies -- walks in nature, porn, destruction of technology, weeping -- a few powerful universals emerge, including the role of procrastination, the importance of a gestation period for ideas, and, above all, the reminder that the "creative block" befalls everyone indiscriminately.
After providing the examples, she concludes:
At once practical and philosophical, Breakthrough! promises to help you burst through your own creative plateaus. Whether or not it succeeds, one thing it's guaranteed to do is make you feel less alone in your mental struggles -- and what greater reassurance than that could there be?
You can find more advice and ideas about this topic at two sections in Garbl's Writing Resources Online:
Also check the Creativity tab above for daily editions of Garbl's Creativity Connections.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Every vote counts. Every voice counts. | Women's Voices for Obama

In this video, Jane Lynch, Eva Longoria, Beyoncé Knowles, Julianne Moore, Julianna Margulies, Olivia Wilde, Gloria Steinem, Jennifer Lopez, Ashley Judd, Sheryl Crow, Cecile Richards, Padma Lakshmi, and Kerry Washington share how President Barack Obama has fought for women's rights; how he'll continue to move this country forward; and how women will help decide this election.

As Gloria Steinem shares:
"If we understand our power, we can move forward."

Want Your Message To Stick? Tell A Story | Sean Blanda, Tips :: 99U

First providing some research examples in this article, Blanda writes:
[W]e live vicariously through the actions and stories of others. It's the reason we wince when we hear a disgusting story or feel our heart race while watching an action movie. It's also the reason that ideas that evoke a specific narrative are more memorable -- they invite empathy, which increases the likelihood that they will be accepted and adopted.
I agree! I value writing, even briefly, about the real-life stories people experience in their work, the hobbies, their families and so on. Telling those stories helps readers relate to the point of an article and get its key message(s).

To aid his readers, Blanda asked some experts for advice on "how to be better storytellers in our work lives." Here's a summary of the useful advice he received:
  • Figure out your controlling idea.
  • Set the mood. ...
The mood is a through line that has gone on a journey towards the end and shifted. That's the skeleton, the main thing running through a story that makes it more than random information.
  • Choose the right structure, and stick with it. 
  • Keep it short. ...
People appreciate an economic approach to words. Use only the words you need to use and not the words that will impress other people. Make it count.
  • Use details and images to build empathy.
  • Show vulnerability. ...
A lot of people make the mistake of thinking they have to put their best foot forward all the time, like they are their resume. One of the most valuable stories to listeners is when a confident person gets up and talks about a time they struggled and failed.
  • Practice, practice, practice. 
___________
This article is featured today (Oct. 2) in Garbl's Creativity Connections--available at the Creativity tab above and by free email subscription.

Grammar: Is "whom" history? From the mouths of babes | Johnson, The Economist

After discussing the amusing "mouths of babes" part of the headline for this article,  blogger Johnson gets to the "whom" question.

Thinking Johnson was getting to "yes," I liked this paragraph:
Since whom is becoming less common, many people can't use it properly even when they are aiming for Formal. (A common mistake is using it in a subject role, for example: That's the candidate whom I hope will win the election. Here, the mistake is in thinking that I hope turns who into an object. But the clause is really who will win the election, with I hope just an interpolation.) The unease over whom just makes people avoid it more.
But then Johnson writes:
I think whom has a long life left in it, though, for non-grammatical reasons. Educated people prize language, and the mastery of Formal. Their status at the top of the social heap is an incentive to treat the proper use of whom as a sign of intelligence, not just the Formal register. 
OK, Johnson is writing tongue-in-cheek, sarcastically ... Right? I'm not so sure, unfortunately. The following statement about "Educated people" disappointed me:
They do most of the edited and published writing we consume. And so whom will live in print for a good long time, even as many of those same people ignore it when they're chatting at the proverbial water cooler.
Ohhh why? Why must pomposity rule among publishers (and educators)?

I am a major advocate of respecting the differing definitions and uses of similar words, but language must also change to respect common, familiar use--and the continuing difficulty of following certain unneeded or outdated rules. Whom needs to go the way of the outdated use of he/his/him as a generic pronoun.

My online editorial style manual also tries to clarify use of who and whom. But I think it's a lost cause, one that is not worth continuing.
___________
This article appears today (Oct. 2) in Garbl's Style: Write Choices--available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Pet Peeves: From the K and L Entries in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual

Here's the 10th in my alphabetical series of pet peeves -- from entries in the K section and the L section of Garbl's Editorial Style Manual. My style manual covers editorial issues like abbreviations, addresses, capitalization, English grammar, Internet terminology, numbers, plurals, possessives, punctuation, spelling and word usage. It focuses on U.S. standards for spelling, punctuation, definitions, usage, style and grammar.

Earlier blogs:

A peeves | B peeves | C peeves | D peeves | E peeves | F peeves | G peeves | H peeves | I peeves | J peeves

-K-

kind of, sort of Wordy and vague. Delete. If you must qualify (weaken) your writing, replace those phrases with rather, slightly or somehowIt's kind of (slightly) cloudy today. I'm sort of (rather) tired.Kind of and short of are acceptable to mean "a species of" or "subcategory of": That is the kind of development our region needs.


kudos It means "credit or praise for an achievement. The word is singular and takes singular verbs. There's no such thing as a kudoPraise is simpler, less pretentious synonym.


-L-

laid off, lay off (v.), layoff (n., adj.) Use these terms when writing about reductions in work force to cut costs, not for dismissals because of job performance.

large size(d) Usually redundant. Drop size(d).

last, latest, past Avoid using last to mean "most recent"; use latest instead. Use last to mean "after all others, after everyone or everything else." OK: The last time it rained, I forgot my umbrella. But: He made the last announcement at noon today may leave readers wondering whether the announcement was the final announcement or whether others will follow. Substitute latest for last. Other times, past may be a better word. Change: They worked together the last five months. To: They worked together the past five months.

The word last can also be confusing to mean "most recent" when using the name of a month or day; does last April mean April this year or April last year? Preferred: It happened in April. It happened Wednesday. Or: It happened last week. It happened last month. Redundant: It happened last Wednesday.

(the) late Think of the late as meaning "recently dead." If you think readers will no longer feel a person's death is recent -- or if you think most readers will know a person is dead -- don't use the late. And don't use the late to describe the former wife or husband of someone who's still alive! Use former or ex- (hyphenated) instead.

lay, lie Often confused. The action word is lay, which means "to place, put or deposit." It is followed by a direct object: I will lay the agenda on the desk. I laid the agenda on the desk. I have laid the agenda on the desk. I am laying the agenda on the desk. Use lay, laid or laying if place, placed or placing would substitute correctly.

Lie means "to be in a reclining position." It does not take a direct object. It is often followed by down or a prepositional phrase: The mechanic decided to lie down. The wrench lies on the workbench. The wrench lay on the workbench all day. The wrench has lain on the workbench all day. The wrench is lying on the workbench.

When lie means to make an untrue statement, the verb forms are lie, lied and lying.

lay the groundwork (for) Wordy cliche. Simplify. Try prepare, arrange, plan or ready.

lectern, podium Often confused. A speaker stands behind a lectern on a podium.

less than, under If you mean a lesser quantity or amount, use less than. Use under to mean physically underneath.

lets, let's Both are correct, depending on how you're using the word. If you mean let us, the correct spelling for the contraction is let'sLet's finish the job. But lets is correct as a present tense form of the verb letHe lets them get away with murder.

leverage Business jargon used by financial consultants to increase their return on the time they're investing in you by making you feel indebted to them for their understanding of the jargon they're using. For everyday, clear use, influence is a powerful word.

liberal Ignore misleading uses of this honorable word. Used accurately, liberal implies tolerance of others' views and open-mindedness to ideas that challenge tradition and established institutions. To be liberal means to be willing to understand or respect the different, even unorthodox behavior and ideas of other people. A liberal person supports changes and reform in political, social or religious systems that promote democracy and individual freedom. To be liberal is to be generous and plentiful. Be liberal proudly.

literally Overused and misused. It means "actually or in fact," not "figuratively." No politician, rock band or cult, for example, can literally sweep the Earth. In other words, use literally only when describing reality, or consider dropping the word.

livable Not liveable.

located Usually unnecessary when giving a location: The plant is in Renton. Not: The plant is located in Renton. Or: Their office is on Bourbon Street. Not: Their office is located on Bourbon Street. For other uses, consider using simpler verbs place or find.

login/log in, logon/log on, log off, log out Use one word as nouns, two words as verbs: Have you been told your login yet? She was told to log on to her computer. He logged in to the database program. Everyone was logging off the network. Verb use is more common. Log in and log on are interchangeable; so are log off and log out. Don't log into or log onto.

-ly A hyphen is unnecessary and redundant between an adverb ending in ly and the adjective it modifies: an easily remembered rule, randomly selected addresses.

Advertising Agencies Have Forgotten How To Use Plain English To Sell Stuff | George Parker, Business Insider

Businesses are continually inventing new ways of presenting the same stuff they have been pimping since their ancestors were the AOR (Agency of Record) for the tumescent brothels of Pompeii (The two thousand year old graffiti demonstrating this fact is still there, preserved under the volcanic ash!).
So writes Parker in this article.  He says things are changing ... but not getting better:
Now it would appear that agencies are shifting gears into “warp factor five” in their never ending quest to destroy the Queen’s English.
They no longer gather stuff together, they “curate.” They have ceased to think, they are now “ideating.” They no longer probe the new; they prefer to be “experiential.” They are not skilled in their craft; they are now expensively “artisanal.”
And these silly agencies think real-life human beings can relate to that shit? Perhaps too late for their own good, these agencies will do something for which we'll all be grateful ... and go bankrupt financially as they have done mentally.

I hope so, before such pomposity infects other human beings.
__________
This article is featured today (Oct. 1) in Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs--available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...