Pinar Altay

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Do governments use complex language on purpose?

I think that, all the "legal things" are too complicated to be understood by ordinary citizens. All the paper work are written by professionals and they use extremely complicated language to make their points.

Do governments do this on purpose?

Because there are so many ways to make it easy to understand.

They want it to be NOT understand by the citizens because of some "unknown" reason?

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    Aug 3 2011: They certainly do Pinar and always have done. It is a way to intimidate and at the same time shield themselves. In former centuries the governments in Western Europe often spoke a foreign language, like Latin or French. Now in politics they often use common words but in such a way that they in a very sensible way really say nothing at all. Their interest isn’t always the peoples’.
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    Jul 30 2011: There are some things that need to be written in a legal language that properly describes the conditions and constraints of various policies to clamp down loopholes and prevent misinterpretation but there is nothing stopping them from overlaying that with a "plain English" version that makes sense to the layperson.

    I worked in government for 8 years and was on the side of those who wanted people to understand what we were saying rather than fall into the trap of bureaucratic speak ... and it really is just that, a trap - a culture that expects you to speak in vague and non-commital safe terms which only delay things getting done. You just get caught up in it - but people are pushing back from inside because public servants do genuinely want to help citizens, not screw around with endless policy reviews, crossing the t's and dotting the i's.
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    Jul 29 2011: Some things in life cannot be reduced to simple explanations. I agree with Derrick sometimes complexity is used to mask duplicity. In law some contracts are really long and wordy but filled with what is known as boiler plate language to try and protect the parties from future litigation. some of it is also cultural and some of it is because some ideas do not translate easily from one language to another. An example might be a joke that uses a play on words in english if translated literally to turkish might make no sense or even be offensive. It is the nature of language and communication
  • Jul 28 2011: Some might do this, governments and corporations.
    But each and everyone capable of finishing school should be able to understand it, in a perfect world.

    Added to the make the world perfect list, heheh.
  • Jul 28 2011: On purpose? I do not know since motive is hard to establish. Bad practice? Perhaps. Necessary? Maybe. . Besides, not only governments, but corporations, lawyers, preachers etc use complex language for various ends. I think some ideas/things/phenomenon are complex and therefore require complex language to unpack them. However, complexity can prevent people from asking serious questions and hence function as a tool for control as in the case of governments, or a way to evade responsibility and ensnare people as in the case of credit card/mortgage contracts.