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Councils Issue Banned Jargon List

It looks like the Local Government Association (LGA) is having another crack-down on the English language.  This time it does look like a real attempt at improving communication, rather than the previous attempt to rout us of nasty foreign words [^].


The LGA’s banned jargon list [^] identifies what can only be described as management-speak and weasel words, phrases and terms that are used to obscure meaning. Some of the terms include “predictors of beaconicity”, “procure”, “potentialities” and “coterminous, stakeholder engagement”. And good riddance I say to them.

A Plain English Campaign spokeswoman said to the BBC:

 “This gobbledegook has to go. Jargon has its place within professions but it should not be allowed to leak out to the public, as it causes confusion.”

Technical terms do have a place in the professions where they clarify meaning, or identify specific situation. But “predictors of beaconicity” and “coterminous, stakeholder engagement” are just down-right confusing. Such terminology reduces the effectiveness of the message, rather than improving it. This is sloppy use of the available tools, in this case language.

It is like saying that a student “is no longer permanently affiliated with” a school rather than expelled (Skins Series 2, Episode 5). The problem with this is that there is a significant mental shift that is required mid-sentence to interpret the phrase, rather than instant understanding. That is a lot of verbal gymnastics to go through just to remove, or obscure, one undesirable word.

As any student will tell you any form of communication should be tailored to the intended audience. No audience wants to have to rush off to the dictionary to discover that “coterminous” means equal in scope, or sharing a boundary! We are all “stakeholders” in the activities our governments, let’s hope that this is just the beginning of dialogue that establishes communication norms.

English Nurse Forced to Take English Test

This just tickled my fancy. 

A British nurse has been forced to take an English language test before she can work in Australia.

TimesOnline - Strewth! Briton must take an English test 

The NSW Nurses and Midwives Board introduced new language proficiency regulations for all migrants on 1st January.  This rule even applies to the 33 year-old Birmingham born, Bristol educated Ms Julie Dutton; despite her being fluent in English, and holding a Nursing degree  from an English university.

There is an undoubted need for a nurse to be able to communicate effectively with other hospital staff. But is this a case of “bureaucracy gone mad” as the NSW Opposition claim, or just a lack of commonsense?

More frustrating was the fact that the next test that Ms Dutton could sit was in June. With government intervention, a place has been found this weekend at Macquarie University’s International English Language Testing System Centre.

David Harris from the testing authority said “If it was to be decided that people should be exempted from the test, on the basis of what evidence would they make that decision?” That indeed is the question, the one that should have been determined prior to the regulation being introduced.

Interestingly, it must be noted that Australian nurses in the UK face the same profiency requirements.

Via: ABC News [^] and TimesOnline [^]

The Victorian Bushfires are Contained

A day of heavy rain has meant that the last of the bushfires [^] that raged across the state for five weeks is now controlled. The fires have claimed 210 lives, more than 2,000 homes and burnt 421,000 hectares.

Two weeks ago we drove up to the farm, along the Melba Highway. On the way we passed close to the Kinglake township and through Yea, some of the areas most effected by the fires. The change in the landscape is almost unbelieveable; stark burnt trees and bare earth have replaced the lush, overgrown forest floor. 

Life Returns to Kinglake: Neil Creek

Life Returns to Kinglake: Neil Creek

From the highway there are signs of frantic fire-fighting efforts, especially around Glenburn, and around odd farmhouses.  But, the human-scale of the loss, lives and houses, is hidden from view.

Neil Creek, a Melbourne photographer, was invited into the town of Kinglake [^].  He has the story of his visit, photos  and some details of how the town was affected, as told by a local, on his blog. 

Neil has also written an article on the Digital Photography School site [^], called “Photographing a Tragedy [^]“. The post emphasises the need for respect and tact in this situation, and fills in more of the Kinglake story.

Photo Credit: Neil CreekCreative Commons License

Victorian Bush Fire Update

It is now almost a month since the bush fires started.  It is important to remember that some of those fires are still burning uncontrolled. People are continuing to loose their homes and livelihoods, but hopefully not their lives.

There is some hope now that the break in the weather, and the forecast week of showers may enable firefighters to get on top of the fires.  It is still expected that some blazes will need to be allowed to burn themselves out.

The Victoria Fires Map [^] , which is based on live data received from the official sites, is still showing lots of uncontrolled fires.  But in a positive light we now have a Victorian Bushfire Events Map [^] for fundraising events, co-ordinated by the Victorian Premier’s Department.

Victorian Bush Fires

News of the Victorian Bush Fires seems to be getting good coverage around the world now. 

Whole towns have been lost to fire, with hundreds of thousands of hectacres burnt.  The death toll so far has exceeded that of the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983, with the toll expected to rise further as the emergency services begin to get into affected areas.  This make this Victoria’s worst bush fire so far.

The CannibalRabbit family have not been directly affected by the fires.  Mrs CannibalRabbit’s parents are in country Victoria, and like us are surrounded by nothing more than smoke at the moment.  We have had some fires around 25 kilometres away from us at Yarra Glen, but other than the smell of smoke on the air and the loss of our view, we have nothing to worry about here in suburbia.

There are a number of reliable sources for news:

In response to requests by the CFA and the DSE that web-traffic too their sites be kept to a minimum, Google have created a flash-based map for people not threatened by the fires. The Victoria Fires Map [^] is based on live data received from the official sites.

Out thoughts go out to those affected by the fires, and our thanks to everyone involved in fighting the fires and those that are supporting them.