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Kate Murphy

Kate can’t decide whether to be appalled or delighted that “irregardless” has been admitted to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

During 15 years as a management consultant, Kate was overexposed to pointless jargon. She now not only recognises it, but she is also immune to any excuses for using it. She is a freelance editor who works mainly with humanitarian clients, and is particularly proud of her work with Translators without Borders. 

Kate is a member of PLAIN and CIEP. She’s also a CELTA-qualified English teacher, a side hustle that has given her added insight into the complexities of English and the importance of clear and considered writing. She has a Masters degree in Environmental Law and a keen interest in how environmental and humanitarian issues interact.

A missed opportunity: plain language was not a symptom of the world’s COVID-19 response

Kate Murphy, freelance editor and copywriter and Plain-Language Adviser at Translators without Borders

Plain language can change reader and listener behaviour. So it seemed strange that so few national leaders used it when they first discussed COVID-19. It was equally strange that so few humanitarian organizations used plain language in their COVID-19 responses.

In this presentation I ponder the value of plain language in a global crisis. I’ll ask how we as practitioners can be more effective advocates for plain language, not only in times of crisis, but in times of calmness too.

I’ll highlight some of the plain-language issues that have characterised COVID-19 communications and suggest some ways we might be able to support the overworked, under-resourced humanitarian organizations that are trying so hard to provide information for all.