Norwegian government to cut the jargon / News / The Foreigner

Norwegian government to cut the jargon. The government says it wants to avoid confusing people when they meet Norway’s civil service. “We made a survey that showed us that as many as one in three Norwegians struggle to understand letters from the government and its branches. The complex language found in laws and regulations often makes its way onto the forms and letters citizens have to fill out,” Rigmor Aasrud, the Minister of Government Administration, Reform, and Church Affairs, tells The Foreigner by email. “Plain Language in Norway’s Civil Service” was launched two years ago and involves the Agency for Public Management and e-Government (Difi), the Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet), and Ms Aasrud’s own ministry (FAD). Its aim is to encourage public agencies to adopt and employ user-friendly Norwegian.

rigmoraasrud, plainlanguageinnorwayscivilservice, drannettacheek, presidentbarackobama, udi



The Foreigner Logo

The Foreigner is an online publication for English speakers living or who have an interest in Norway. Whether it’s a glimpse of news or entertainment you’re after, there’s no need to leave your linguistic armchair. You don’t need to cry over the demise of the English pages of Aftenposten.no, The Foreigner is here!

Norske nyheter på engelsk fra Norge. The Foreigner er en engelskspråklig internett avis for de som bor eller som er interessert i Norge.

Google+ Google+ Twitter Facebook RSS RSS



News Article

LATEST:

Norwegian government to cut the jargon

Published on Friday, 11th March, 2011 at 18:38 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 12th March 2011 at 11:16.

The government says it wants to avoid confusing people when they meet Norway’s civil service.

Lion sculpture outside parliament
Lion sculpture outside parliament
Photo: John Erling Blad/Wikimedia Commons


As clear as mud

“We made a survey that showed us that as many as one in three Norwegians struggle to understand letters from the government and its branches. The complex language found in laws and regulations often makes its way onto the forms and letters citizens have to fill out,” Rigmor Aasrud, the Minister of Government Administration, Reform, and Church Affairs, tells The Foreigner by email.

“Plain Language in Norway’s Civil Service” was launched two years ago and involves the Agency for Public Management and e-Government (Difi), the Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet), and Ms Aasrud’s own ministry (FAD). Its aim is to encourage public agencies to adopt and employ user-friendly Norwegian.

As part of the joint project, the government has asked for help from Dr Annetta Cheek, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Center for Plain Language in Washington D.C.

She is regarded as the architect behind the Plain Writing Act, signed by President Barack Obama in October 2010. Yesterday, over 200 delegates gathered at a conference in Oslo to hear her speak.

Dr Cheek says many principles are transferrable from one language to another because, “the way we define things is not by the techniques of writing.”

“People come to the government because of a specific information requirement, or a need to apply and comply. Enabling the reader to understand is a difficult task. Plain language for one individual is not the same as plain language for another.”

An uphill struggle?

She believes cleaning up bureaucratic Norwegian will be as challenging as it was in the US.

“I have met some resistance. Technical and legal people are proud of the way they write, and do not think their language should be interfered with. However, writing easily is not easy, and takes a lot of work. People do not have the skills and must practice. Moreover, a bureaucrat writes for the official across the hall. Very few think about the reader, what he/she needs, doesn’t need, and what the reader already knows.”

According to Rigmor Aasrud, Norwegians will benefit from the government’s initiative.

“Everybody has to know their rights, obligations, and possibilities in a democracy. Plain language is a vital part of the government’s reform policy, and will save the government and the citizens money and time.”

Foreigners and non-fluent Norwegian-speakers also stand to gain.

“Plainer language is of course helpful for those who are new to Norwegian. The main goal is good communication, which can also be achieved in letters, on web pages, in videos and when the Government speaks. For example, The Norwegian Directorate of Immigration (UDI) has made a video for foreigners that explains what the UDI is, and what it does. Some agencies translate their texts into other languages than Norwegian,” she says.

In the past two years, 70 agencies and over 700 people have engaged in and been a part of the plain language project. It is scheduled to run until the end of 2012.



Published on Friday, 11th March, 2011 at 18:38 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 12th March 2011 at 11:16.

This post has the following tags: rigmoraasrud, plainlanguageinnorwayscivilservice, drannettacheek, presidentbarackobama, udi.





  
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!