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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 10:05 GMT
Artist Emin leaves us baffled
Tracey Emin
Unenviable award: Tracey Emin
Conceptual artist Tracey Emin has won one of the country's least wanted accolades - the Plain English Campaign's "Foot in Mouth" award. BBC News Online takes a closer look at the notorious prize.

Comments by Tracey Emin about her forthcoming novel have won the controversial artist the top prize in the annual Golden Bull awards for spouting nonsense.

Uniquely unique

In a newspaper interview Emin said: "When it comes to words I have a uniqueness that I find almost impossible in art - and it's my words that actually make my art quite unique."

The Plain English Campaign's John Lister said there was no malice attached to the award. "All we look for with this award is a quote that leaves us baffled. The Tracey Emin quote does that in a unique way," he added.

Each year the campaign group hands out awards for the worst abuses of the English language.

I do not believe that at this moment in time, if that changes in years to come I don't know, but what happens here today and changes as we go along that is part of life's learning and part of your inner beliefs.

Previous winner Glenn Hoddle

Ms Emin inherits the award from last year's winner - Hollywood actress Alicia Silverstone. The star had said she thought her film Clueless was very deep, adding: "I think it was deep in the way that it was very light.

"I think lightness has to come from a very deep place if it's true lightness."

Previous winners include John Prescott and former England football manager Glenn Hoddle who lifted the title for his mind-bending comments about people with disabilities.

The Plain English Campaign was founded 22 years ago to promote the writing of good English in official documents, highlighting the way in which organisations hide behind jargon in explaining themselves to the public.

BS in Cyprus

Emin art
No spellchecker: Emin's artwork

There are eight winners of "Golden Bull" awards this year. One of the worst offenders is - as in previous years - the military (home of such linguistic innovations as "friendly fire").

A letter sent out by the British Army in Cyprus left readers reeling.

It said: "The allocation is based on a balance equity share using the same formulae as last year. Should the DE methodology or a division by category methodology have been used then PROPMAN areas would have been severely disadvantaged."

There is less in the way of jargon this year, but there seems to be a lot more waffle

Plain English Campaign's review of contemporary "bull"

A Scottish management group meanwhile issued a "Manifesto for the upbeat possibilities" of Edinburgh. The document started by saying: "Many guides are repetitive. Lack of repetition in this one should not be taken as equivocation."

Out of their pram

And the Financial Services Authority left the world none the wiser when it defined "an unsolicited real time qualifying credit promotion" as a "real time qualifying credit promotion which is not a solicited real time qualifying credit promotion".

Absurd as this sort of thing may seem, it still has some way to go before it measures up to the Department of Trade and Industry 1997 classic definition of a pram as "a wheeled vehicle designed for the transport in a seated or recumbent position of one or two babies or infants, any carry-cot or transporter thereof".

Verbal gesturing provides reassurance to callers of continued presence and sense of safety which provides encouragement to express their feelings and wishes

Golden Bull nominated instructions for answering the phone

The campaign also hands out awards in what it calls "positive categories" - meaning examples of clear, precise English used in official documents.

Crystal Clear

This year winners include Camden Council in London, the Inland Revenue and the NHS Pensions Agency.

They will receive the Plain English Campaign's "Crystal Mark" seal of approval which now appears on more than 6,500 documents written in plain English.


Department for Education and Skills for Instrument and Articles of Government for Further Education Corporations:

Rule 14, paragraph 2 explains that Paragraph (1) is without prejudice to any action which the Corporation may take in relation to a clerk who is also a member of the staff by way of suspension from or termination of the appointment as clerk under the terms of any separate appointment as clerk.

Computer firm Technomatic for its standard terms and conditions (although the judges noted that this was merely a summary, and a full list was available):

Except in respect of death or personal injury caused by the Company's negligence the Company shall not be liable to the Customer by reason of any representation (unless fraudulent) or any implied warranty, condition or other term or any duty in common law or under the express terms of the Contract for any indirect, special or consequential losses or damages (whether for loss of profit or otherwise) costs expenses or other claims for compensation whatsoever (whether caused by the negligence of the Company, its employees, agents or otherwise) which arise out of or in connection with the supply of the Goods or their use or resale by the Customer and the entire liability of the Company under or in connection with the Contract shall not exceed one and a half times the price paid for the Goods in question by the Customer.

Wheale Thomas Hodgins plc for a job advert:

The advert is for a Workplace & Diversity Director for the Business in the Community organisation. The lucky candidate will help "make the most of UK Plc's Human Resources by changing its people landscape through inclusivity". They will also make Business in the Community "the primary catalyst for change and centre of excellence on all things inclusive". Apparently applicants will need to "possess the leadership, gravitas and currency to impact upon your peer group".

University of Dundee for Corporate Identity Design Rationale:

The geometric foundation of the design is based upon a circular form, which makes reference to the Institution's global perspective and international reputation in teaching and research. The typographic elements demonstrate a hierarchy which promotes the importance of the location within the nomenclature. The group of circles represents the incremental growth of knowledge and experience and the progressive development of the university as an educational leader. This thematic device continues through to the linear band on the right of the Shield of Arms and describes the cyclical movement of time, indicating progression and new directions.

See also:

06 Dec 00 | UK
Alicia leaves us Clueless
11 Dec 98 | UK Politics
Duck scores MP bad English award
10 Dec 97 | UK
Plain speaking is no joke
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