June 06, 2005

What's wrong with Plain English?

Following a link in a recent post at Semantic Compositions, Dave Rattigan has been puzzling over our criticisms of the Plain English Campaign. After all, who could be against Plain English?

It started with the PEC's "Foot in Mouth" award to Donald Rumsfeld in December of 2003, and continued with their cliché-ridden campaign against clichés. Rather than go over the same ground again, I'll just point to these previous posts:

Clear Thinking Campaign gives "Fogged Spectacles" Award to John Lister (Mark Liberman)
No foot in mouth (Geoff Pullum)
Economist follows Language Log (Geoff Pullum)
Fed up with 'Fed up'? (Mark Liberman)
Irritating cliches? Get a life. (Geoff Pullum)
Diamond geezer? (Mark Liberman)
The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld and other fresh American art songs (Mark Liberman)
Baffling award of the year, again (Mark Liberman)

For a summary, see John 8:1-11.

Meanwhile, I've been meaning for the past week to cite some dazzling historical scholarship from Trevor at Kalebeul. In a post (from 5/31/2005) entitled "Rumsfeld, Bush and the Swedenborg Conspiracy", Trevor exposes the extraordinary connections among Donald Rumsfeld, the 18th-century Swedish mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg, George Bush (not the current president, but his great-great-great-granduncle the professor of Hebrew at NYU) and the MIT geology department. It's like a fourth volume of the Baroque Trilogy compressed into one brief blog post!

Posted by Mark Liberman at June 6, 2005 11:30 AM