Put a simple sentence like "Please kill the weeds around the building" in the hands of a government official, says Plain Talk founding president Albert Joseph, and you'll end up with something like "Management has become cognizant of the necessity of eliminating undesirable vegetation surrounding the periphery of the facility.'"
This kind of government gobbledygook inspired Alfred Kahn to declare war on bureaucratese just four days after he became chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board in 1977.
His now-famous memo urged staffers "to try very hard to write Board orders . . . in straight-forward quasi-conversational, humane prose -- as though you are talking to or communicating with real people."
Couched as a plea for his sanity, it included this test:
"Try reading some of the language you use aloud, and ask yourself how your friends would be likely to react." (And then decide, on the basis of their reactions, whether you still want them as friends.)
But if you speak only bureaucratese, here are Kahn's suggestions (and some of our own) for translating "junk and jargon" into English:
Herein, therein, hereinabove, etc. -- Here, there, above.
Pursuant, regarding, with reference to -- About.
At this point in time -- Now .
Prior to, or heretofore -- Before.
Aforesaid or aforementioned -- Previous.
In view of -- Since.
In order to -- To. Cognizant -- Aware.
Insufficiency -- Shortage.
Obligational limitation -- Legal limit.
Effectuate reductions -- Reduce.
To impact on -- Influence.
In accordance with the provisions herein contained -- To conform with what it says here.
A query relative to the status of -- A question about.
Pending determination of fiscal expenditures -- Until the cost can be calculated.
Interface with -- Meet.
Provide significant opportunity to input -- Give a chance to contribute.