UK

Plain English award for Met Office 'gobbledygook'

  • 9 December 2011
  • From the section UK
Plain English Campaign Golden Bull award
The Met Office and the Office for National Statistics received Golden Bull awards for poor use of English

The Meteorological Office's description of its new weather forecasts has been branded as gobbledygook by the Plain English Campaign.

Talking about "probabilities of precipitation" instead of discussing whether "rain is likely", is baffling, says the group.

It has chosen the UK weather service as a recipient of its Golden Bull booby prize.

But the Met Office has pointed out that precipitation does not only mean rain.

The change to the forecasts, introduced in November, refers to the percentage chance of precipitation.

A Met Office spokesman said: "Precipitation covers a wide range of stuff falling from the sky including rain, sleet, snow, hail, drizzle and even cats and dogs - but sums it up in just one word."

'Crystal clear'

The Plain English Campaign says it aims to persuade UK and worldwide organisations to communicate with the public in plain language. It says the government needs to make it a legal duty that public communications are clear.

Other award winners include the Houses of Parliament for their use of 'archaic language' and the Office for National Statistics, which gets a prize for asking businesses to identify "activities of extraterritorial organisations".

The founder of the Plain English Campaign, Chrissie Maher, said: "Even though most people agree that plain English is plain common sense, our government needs to make it a legal duty that public communications are crystal-clear."

Several organisations have received awards from the campaign for their use of clear and concise English.

Channel 4's Fact Check blog and the website of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust - an organisation which supports women affected by cancer - have been singled out for their jargon-free information.

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