Wonderfully clear: will simple government language in New Zealand soon be mandatory?

Wonderfully clear: will simple government language in New Zealand soon be mandatory?
Wonderfully clear: will simple government language in New Zealand soon be mandatory?

The New Zealand parliament is currently considering a bill to ban complex, bureaucratic sentence structures from government documents. This should lead to the government only communicating with residents in simple and understandable language. The proposal comes from MP Rachel Boyack. “New Zealanders need to be able to understand what the government expects of them, what their rights are and what they are entitled to,” she says. Woolly language usually does not help.

The Plain Language Bill, freely translated as the law of plain language, states that government communications must be “clear, concise, well-structured and adapted to the public”. The proposal was submitted in September last year and has already come a long way in parliament. It has already been discussed twice in the full parliament, and that has already resulted in animated debates. Member of Parliament Sarah Pallet brought in the famous British romantic poet William Wordsworth.

I wandered lonely as a cloud, That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils’, she quoted from one of his most famous poems. “In solitude I wandered, As a cloud can hover over valley and hill, Suddenly I found daffodils, a whole row” (translation by Victor Bulthuis, ed). “Beautiful”, according to Pallet. “What he actually says: I felt bad. I took a walk. I saw a lot of beautiful daffodils, and that really cheered me up. Good, classic Wordsworth. But that is the place for rich, not so accessible language, in poetry and literature, not in government legislation.”

The article is in Dutch

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