Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video Remove gibberish and nonsensical writing, part of Writing in Plain English.
- [Voiceover] Goobledygook, and its synonym, gibberish, means nonsense, or makes no sense. A spoken word that makes no sense is more likely to be referred to as gibberish, and the written nonsense is more likely to be called gobbledygook, but regardless of which term is used, they refer to meaningless, empty phrases. This is another example of writing using long, complicated words that sound impressive and probably confusing because they have no meaning.
Listen to these, the solution can only be integrated with administrative resources or projections. Our upgraded model now offers total asset contingencies. Today marks the 20th anniversary celebration of our responsive strategic mobility. A window to discuss your optional administrative alignment has been suggested. If someone said any of those to me, I would smile politely and hope that what was said doesn't require a response, because I have no idea what was said.
If I read those statements in a memo or email or newspaper article, I would quit reading, and again, hope that no one asks me what it meant and find something more understandable to read. What about you, same reaction? Probably, the truth is that all four of those phrases were generated at a gobbledygook generator site. Its only purpose is to provide you with impressive but meaningless phrases. The Plain English Campaign slogan is fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979.
It campaigns against gobbledygook and other meaningless word categories. The organization awards a crystal mark to organizations that provide clear communication and the Golden Bull award to organizations that produce confusing communication. SMOG, an acronym standing for simple measure of gobbledygook is a specific readability index that detects just gobbledygook. This portion of Woodrow Wilson's war message advising Congress to declare war on Germany in 1917, has a SMOG index of 23 and an overall readability index of 55, identifying it as extremely if not impossible to understand.
In the Gobbledygook Manifesto, David Meerman Scott asserts that when we see gobbledygook, our eyes tend to glaze over and we scratch our heads wondering what it's all supposed to mean. So to write in plain English, avoid meaningless words strung together, make your reader want to keep reading. Gobbledygook is hard to define, but easy to recognize. Our reaction is usually that glassy look and puzzled facial expression along with an exclamation of "say what?" and I'm not referring to Stevie Ray Vaughan's song.
The unfortunate result of reading gobbledygook writing is that we may question our intelligence. I should understand what I'm reading, but rather if you don't understand it, start questioning the writer, rather than your intelligence. And when you are the writer, analyze your SMOG. Will it receive the crystal mark or the bull award?
If you can write in plain English, you can save time, save money, and save face in communications. Start watching to learn how to make your writing more "plain": stronger, clearer, and more concise.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
- Understanding plain English
- Catching mistakes by reading aloud
- Simplifying sentences
- Using strong verbs and meaningful words
- Avoiding corporate jargon
- Finding the right voice and tone
- Editing flow and content
- Writing in a conversational style