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Making sense - managing stress

Sometimes you have to write (or improve) a text containing a mass of facts

and ideas. Here are some ways of untangling the information so that readers

will understand each sentence the first time they read it.

Name the agents of each action and put the actions in the order in

which they occur.

Its decision on allocation of ESF assistance will be taken subsequent to receipt of

all project applications at the Committee's meeting.

When all applicants have submitted their project applications, the

Committee will meet to decide how much ESF aid it will grant to each one.

Put old or known information at the beginning of the sentence and

new or complex information at the end.

This makes sentence linking easier, and helps the reader to follow the thread

of your argument:

THE COURT OF AUDITORS' REPORT criticises agricultural spending and

proposes some new measures to prevent fraud.

THEIR PROPOSALS include setting up a special task force with powers to

search farms.

SUCH POWERS are not normally granted to Commission officials, but fraud

prevention is now one of the EU's main priorities.

(Note that the passive verb is OK in the last sentence because it fits in with the

flow of information).

Make sure your sentences have strong endings - that's the bit readers

will remember.

If necessary, move less important information to the left. Try to avoid feeble


Complete institutional reform is advocated by the report in most cases.

What the report advocates, in most cases, is complete institutional reform.

Some more ways of putting important information in the best position

- at the end of the sentence:

For EU enlargement several alternative scenarios could be considered.

There are several scenarios that we could consider for EU enlargement.

The accession of new Member States in several stages now seems likely.

It now seems likely that new Member States will join in several stages.

KISS: Keep It Short and Simple

Short ... 7

The value of a document is not proportional to its weight. Your readers will not

respect you more because you have written 100 pages instead of 20. In fact

they are more likely to resent you for making such demands on their time. The

Members of the Commission have repeatedly asked for documents to be more

succinct, and the Secretariat General has even been known to reject over-long


Some ways to cut out FOG:

1. Don't state the obvious. Trust your readers' common sense.

2. Don't clutter your text with redundant expressions like "as is well

known", "it is generally accepted that", "in my personal opinion',

"and so on and so forth", "both from the point of view of A and from

the point of view of B".

3. Don't waste words telling readers what the text is going to say, or

reminding them what it said earlier. Just say it. Once.

Shorter documents tend to have more impact, and so do shorter sentences. As

a guide: 1 document = 20 pages at the most

1 sentence = 20 words

But varying sentence length makes for more interesting reading.

Je n'ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n'ai pas

eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.

than usual, only because I have

I have made this letter longer

not had the time to make it shorter.

Pascal 8

... and Simple:

English is a very rich language with a wide choice of different expressions

meaning the same thing. Use simple words where possible. Simple language

will not make you seem less learned or elegant: it will make you seem more

credible. Foggy phrasing often reflects foggy thinking.

in view of the fact that as

with respect to on

a certain number of some

the majority of most

pursuant to under

within the framework of under

accordingly, consequently so

for the purpose of, in order to to

in the event of if

if this is not the case if not

if this is the case if so

concerning, regarding about

with reference to, with regard to about

Simple, uncluttered style calls for the positive form, not the negative

It is not uncommon for applications to be rejected, so do not

complain unless you are sure you have not completed yours


It is quite common for applications to be rejected, so

complain only if you are sure you have completed yours

correctly. 9

False friends and other pitfalls

False friends

It is understandable that we get our languages mixed up in a multilingual

environment like the European Commission. Interference between French and

English is particularly common. But "Frenglish" expressions which might be

permissible in-house are meaningless to outside readers. They are alienating

and they create FOG.

Here are some of the more common "faux amis" in Commission use:


acquis acquis body of EU law


actuel actual current, topical

adéquat adequate suitable

assister à assist at attend, participate

capacité capacity ability, capability

compléter complete supplement

contrôler control supervise, check

disposer de dispose of have, keep

éventuel eventual any

important important large

matériel material supplies, equipment

opportunité opportunity advisability

pays candidats candidates applicant countries

pays tiers third countries non-member countries

perspectives perspectives prospects, outlook

prévu foreseen provided for, planned

stagiaire stagiaire trainee

Statut (des Statute Staff Regulations

fonctionnaires) 10

Eurojargon and Eurospeak

Jargon is a language used by any group of insiders or specialists to

communicate with each other in a way that cannot always be understood by

outsiders. If you want outsiders to understand, don't use Eurojargon

(comitology, habilitation, European construction, etc.).

Eurospeak, on the other hand, is a potentially useful language coined to

describe European Union inventions and concepts which have no exact parallel

at national level. There are only a few of these (e.g. subsidiarity, codecision,

convergence, economic and social cohesion) and correspondingly few real

excuses for using Eurospeak.

Spell it out

Keep a tight rein on abbreviations and acronyms.

(ERDF + EAGGF + CAP = ZZZ). Write them out in full wherever possible.

Ignore FOG-merchants who protest: "But we've

always said that!"

Now is the time to change. 11




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+1 anno fa


Dispensa al corso di Lingua inglese c.a. della Prof.ssa Manuela Cipri. Trattasi di una guida utile ad evitare i più comuni errori di grammatica nella lingua inglese e riguardante in particolare: l'uso dei verbi e dei nomi; l'uso dei verbi attivi e passivi, i false friends.

Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in relazioni internazionali
A.A.: 2011-2012

I contenuti di questa pagina costituiscono rielaborazioni personali del Publisher vipviper di informazioni apprese con la frequenza delle lezioni di Lingua Inglese c.a. e studio autonomo di eventuali libri di riferimento in preparazione dell'esame finale o della tesi. Non devono intendersi come materiale ufficiale dell'università La Sapienza - Uniroma1 o del prof Cipri Manuela.

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Federal Plain Language Guidelines 2011