Bad style

In last week’s British Medical Journal (subscription required), Dalrymple notes the prevalence of doctors in the late John Gross’s New Oxford Book of English Prose, and makes a point about syle:
I turn now to a document I received from the General Medical Council recently through the post. Gross would surely have anthologised it if he had lived, because it certainly shows one of the resources of English prose. Here is what the UK Revalidation Programme Board will do: “(a) Clarify the assumptions and context for delivery; (b) Confirm the scope of the programme and its major interdependencies, including managing performance concerns in relation to doctors; (c) Define the workstreams needed to deliver all aspects of the model and identify who is responsible for delivery; (d) Provide a clear timetable and key milestones for starting revalidation and incremental implementation; (e) Ensure that all key interests are confident that readiness is being assessed on a robust and consistent basis against UK wide criteria; (f) Outline an end state picture across the UK as a part of the planning process for roll out and implementation.”
Social historians of the future will marvel that eminent, educated people should have consented to put their names to such a document, which in Newspeak would be esteemed as “doubleplusgood duckspeak.”

9 thoughts on “Bad style

  1. English Pensioner

    I once had a computer program which generated high-sounding phrases from a series of words that were fashionable at the time. Probably someone has updated it to include the latest buzz-words and it’s being used by the GMC.

  2. Jackson K. Eskew

    This kind of manipulation of language is straight out of the rankest dystopia.

    Today I find myself often wondering, “Are these people aware that there are critics out there attacking their insanity? They must be. Surely. They don’t care? They know they can get away with it in spite of the critics? They know that few listen to Jeremiahs?”

  3. Jackson K. Eskew

    On a related note, I recently came across this Calvin and Hobbes comic:

    Panel 1 (Calvin, writing and talking to Hobbes): I used to hate writing assignments, but now I enjoy them.

    Panel 2: I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity.

    Panel 3: With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog! Want to see my book report?

    Panel 4:

    Calvin hand Hobbes his paper. Hobbes reads:

    “The Dynamics of Interbeing and Monological Imperatives in ‘Dick and Jane’: A Study in Psychic Transrelational Gender Modes.”


    Academia, here I come!


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