It's time again for the annual Plain English Awards, when the worst examples of gobbledegook win recognition. So who, err, won?
The annual Foot in Mouth award winner for the most baffling statement by a public figure went to Boris Johnson for the following nugget of nebulousness:
"I could not fail to disagree with you less."
Mr Johnson spoke the line in a December 2003 edition of the BBC TV quiz Have I got News For You.
The Plain English Awards also highlighted eight particularly testing examples of corporate gobbledygook.
1. Bank of Scotland for a letter to Scottish Widows (with a copy to a customer)
We hereby give you notice that Bank of Scotland have retrocessed, reponed and restored Executors and Assignees, in and to their own right and place in the undernoted policy of Assurance by our Office, Videlicet...
2. British Airways for terms and conditions
Charges for changes and cancellations
Note - cancellations - before departure fare is refundable. If combining a non-refundable fare with a refundable fare only the y/c/j-class half return amount can be refunded. After departure fare is refundable. If combining a non-refundable fare with a refundable fare refund the difference /if any/between the fare paid and the applicable normal BA oneway fare.
Changes/upgrades- permitted anytime.
3. Department of Health for a definition of a container in the Medicines for Human Use (Clinical Trials) Regulations 2004
'Container', in relation to an investigational medicinal product, means the bottle, jar, box, packet or other receptacle which contains or is to contain it, not being a capsule, cachet or other article in which the product is or is to be administered, and where any such receptacle is or is to be contained in another such receptacle, includes the former but does not include the latter receptacle.
4. European Commission for Innovate for a Competitive Europe consultation document
The Commission will introduce aid to innovation in the future 'LASA' (aids without a significant impact on competition) instrument 46. Before the end of 2004 it will elaborate a Vade-mecum on the State aid rules applicable in the field of innovation.
In the context of Better Regulation, the Commission will develop ex-ante assessment of the impact of regulations and standards on innovation. The Commission and the Member States will work to unlock clusters, through internationalisation, inter-regional cooperation and cross-sector fertilisation. Sector-specific benchmarking and dissemination of best practices will be encouraged by extending the current PAXIS initiative 38 to local systems of innovation and clusters.
5. The GENIUS project (based at the University of Reading) for a project overview
The project is structured around multifaceted incremental work plan combining novel content design based on new pedagogical paradigms blended with the e-learning environments to facilitate hybrid mode of delivery. This is combined with series of educational experiments on the target learner groups with possibilities to adjust the approach and disseminate the interim and final results.
Our pedagogical approach is based on the educational model which assumes that the learning process is an interactive process of seeking understanding, consisting of three fundamental components: Conceptualization, Construction and Dialogue. The relevant modules of the New Curricula are mapped onto these three components and a hybrid way of delivery is investigated through different scenarios.
6. Panorama Software for a brochure advertising a seminar with Microsoft
Accountability has taken on a new meaning. Any employee that can impact results must be empowered to make decisions. How do you provide information access and business visibility universally across your enterprise?
The Panorama Software and Microsoft Roundtable is gathering leading minds in business intelligence and the analyst community for expert consensus on the answer. Dialogue and discourse will focus on how business intelligence can address key strategic challenges concerning customers, costs, competition and change.
Industry experts will highlight how you can leverage business intelligence to provide visibility into business critical information.
7. Trilogy Telecom for an e-mail to a customer
BT have started processing the first stage of our MPF orders i.e. the line test and production of a line characteristics report. However with the second stage (i.e. physically installing the metallic facility path between the customers line and the Trilogy equipment) they will only walk one or two orders through the system Thursday of next week.
("Physically installing the metallic facility path" appears to be better known as "laying the cable".)
8. TriMedia for a press statement by CEO Chris Schwartz about a partnership to promote Captain Scarlet
The combination of Gerry Anderson's creativity and state-of-the-art high-definition animated production and production facilities, Sony's global strength in providing a one-stop global solution to develop Captain Scarlet product iterations across all media platforms, ability to define and launch a business management strategy leveraging Sony's market strength in each category and our ability at TriMedia to converge the film and music worlds independently with vertical and street marketing expertise will prove to be of great benefit for all involved. I believe that a cross-pollination of creative properties in multiple media formats with a vertical market approach allows companies to maximize the return for their investment in creative properties and talents and will prove to be the economic engine for our industry in the future.