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RE: fancy talk about "plain language" [was: RE: Proposed 4.1 wo rding ...]

From: john_slatin <john_slatin@forum.utexas.edu>
Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 12:46:18 -0500
Message-ID: <6AC4E20EED49D411941400D0B77E52F0074B964C@forum.cc.utexas.edu>
To: "'Chris O'Kennon'" <chris@vipnet.org>, "'Lee Roberts'" <leeroberts@roserockdesign.com>, WCAG List <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

As I understand the way the phrase "plain language" is used in the proposal
for 4.1, it's something on the order of a technical term, referring to a
specific body of theory and practice.  So replacing it with "easily
understood" would be problematic in that regard, as well as in the way Chris


John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Technology & Learning
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C, Mail code G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.ital.utexas.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris O'Kennon [mailto:chris@vipnet.org] 
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 12:39 pm
To: 'Lee Roberts'; WCAG List
Subject: RE: fancy talk about "plain language" [was: RE: Proposed 4.1 wo
rding ...]

Except then you get into that gray area of what "easily understood" means.
Reminds me of a Steven Wright joke where he said he got into an argument in
Vegas over what he considered an "odd" number.

Chris O'Kennon
Commonwealth of Virginia Webmaster/
VIPNet Portal Architect
"When people are free to do as they please, 
they usually imitate each other."

-----Original Message-----
From: Lee Roberts [mailto:leeroberts@roserockdesign.com] 
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 1:29 PM
To: WCAG List
Subject: RE: fancy talk about "plain language" [was: RE: Proposed 4.1
wording ...]

I was thinking that perhaps instead of "plain language" we use "easily
understood language".  This would remove the connotation that "it's only
plain English".  "Easily understood language" would meet the requirements of
any language and is also "easily" translated by machine translators.

Just my two-cents.


-----Original Message-----
From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Al Gilman
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2002 8:36 AM
To: gv@trace.wisc.edu; 'Lisa Seeman'; 'Avi Arditti'; w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Cc: Bengt.Farre@androtech.se
Subject: fancy talk about "plain language" [was: RE: Proposed 4.1 wording

At 08:13 AM 2002-08-29, Gregg Vanderheiden wrote:

>I think using a term  like  "plain language"  to mean more than
>language (that is, including structure,  formatting,  illustration and 
>all other things that can be used to make writing easier to 
>"plain language"   may be a term of art in some field,  but I would
>think we might chose a term that translates more directly from the
>words used to the meaning we intend.

I don't think we're going to find anything better.

In plain English the term for what we wish to connote is "plain English."

This fails the W3C ethical guideline "insofar as possible avoid the
appearance of bias with regard to language and national origin."

As close to "plain English" as we can come in politically correct English is
"plain language."  I don't see us coming up with another way of saying this
briefly which is both

- as clear from a base in the most commonly used subset of English

- sufficiently language-group neutral



For a term that applies across media an includes the expository-structure
idioms of genres (such as title-bar at the top, navbar on the left in LTR
languages) as well as language structures, use "vernacular idiom."

But this concept, understood that broadly, is exotic.  This broad notion
does not exist in the vernacular base of commonly understood notions.  Its
OK to use highfalutin' language for this idea, because it is an advanced
concept to begin with.


Hypertext is a medium.  Web portal is a medium.

Web Store (Amazon) is a genre, as is "community hub" (slashdot).  Idioms for
page organization exist at the level of site similarity group where you do
similar things there.

>Gregg Vanderheiden Ph.D.
>Ind Engr - Biomed - Trace, Univ of Wis
>-----Original Message-----
>From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org] On
>Behalf Of Lisa Seeman
>Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 2002 4:09 PM
>To: 'Avi Arditti'; w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
>Cc: Bengt.Farre@androtech.se; 'Lisa Seeman'
>Subject: Proposed 4.1 wording for discussion and new proposal
>I very much liked the simplification of Checkpoint 4.1 to  "Use plain
>language" I think it implies all the considerations that we had in 
>wording this checkpoint. If using simpler word has changed the meaning 
>of the sentence
>then you are not using plain language, but rubbish (be it simple
>Plain language implies some ((un)common since.
>In terms of the success criteria, the list is still incomplete as we
>are aweighting the complete list from Ben, But its layout is 
>interesting. It does not follow the formulary for success
>criteria that we have been working on at all. But does follow the spirit
>the success criteria so eloquently described by Jason - who I will now
>attempt to misquote....
>Level one implies they you have attempted to address these issues, some
>what. Level two is were you have taken it to a further level, and level 
>three is were you have done everything you could do. (sorry Jason, I 
>just do not have your eloquence)
>Other then that I have (of course) problems with the wording of the
>both the list and the success criteria. But the approach is an 
>interesting one.
>I would make the levels at (this is the new proposal bit) : success
>criteria level one: Adopting consistently (Implementing ) a quarter
>of the elements listed below,
>success criteria  level two: Implementing half elements listed below,
>success criteria  level three : Implementing all the elements listed
>( the whole thing) OR a format/extra information that allowed automatic
>correct conversion to plain language (yup - ILS).
>Then we need only include in the list testable criteria, but with no
>concern for appropriateness.
>The beauty of this approach is that on every page you can find 1/4
>plain language ideas that work and are suitable, even if any one by 
>themselves can not be applied across the board. If this is not the 
>case, then 1/4 is too
>high and we make lower - until we get something workable.
>Flexible, robust and enduring...
>All the best,
>Lisa Seeman
>UnBounded Access
>Widen the World Web
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Avi Arditti [mailto:aardit@voanews.com]
>Sent: Tuesday, August 20, 2002 4:28 PM
>To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
>Cc: Bengt.Farre@androtech.se; Lisa Seeman
>Subject: Re: Proposed 4.1 wording for discussion
>Greetings to all,
>I would like to propose some ideas for checkpoint 4.1 in an effort to
>revive and narrow the discussion. What I have written incorporates 
>ideas that Bengt, Lisa (by phone) and I discussed at the Linz f2f. It 
>also incorporates some wording from the current draft of 2.0. And it 
>attempts to deal with concerns raised during telecons.
>I await comments and suggestions. As we say in American slang, bring it
>on! (But please be judicious with the trash talk.)
>Avi Arditti
>Senior News Editor - Web Editor
>Voice of America, Special English Branch
>Washington, DC 20237 USA
>(202) 619-0927 | (202) 619-2543 fax
>aardit@voa.gov | www.voaspecialenglish.com | www.plainlanguage.gov
Received on Thursday, 29 August 2002 13:46:22 UTC

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