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To Russia with love of plain English.

Byline: Laura Davis

A LIVERPOOL man is touring the world in a crusade to improve standards of English.

George Maher, from the Plain English Campaign, spends four days on the road each week teaching people to avoid using jargon.

He will visit Russia next week to give a talk at a major conference for journalists and linguistic experts in Moscow.

George Maher, who grew up in Tuebrook, is the son of Chrissie Maher, who founded the Plain English Campaign in Liverpool in 1979.

His involvement with the organisation began when he made tea for the volunteers as an 11-year-old boy.

After graduating from university, he returned to work for the campaign as a volunteer.

The trip to Moscow State University is the next stop on his campaign tour.

Mr Maher, 42, last night said the use of plain English should not be limited to countries where English is the first language.

He said: "No matter what language they speak, we find people in every country need crystalclear information.

"With Russia now having more and more dealings with business in the English-speaking world, we think this is an ideal chance to share our experiences in fighting gobbledegook."

Mr Maher also plans to take advantage of the trip to Moscow to learn how Russians use English.

He said: "Journalists translate official information into plain language every day so this conference is a great opportunity to find out what is really happening with jargon and waffle overseas."

Accompanied by colleague John Wild, Mr Maher will fly to Moscow on Saturday giving them time to study language at the university before the conference at the end of next week.

Conference head Prof Yassen Zasursky said: "It will be a valuable contribution towards a cooperation between scientists and journalists of different countries."

The Plain English Campaign stretches across nearly 50 countries including Brazil, India, South Africa and Ghana.

"Gobbledegook" was an international problem but each country had its own quirks, said a Campaign spokesman.

US writers sometimes relied on euphemisms such as "negative patient healthcare outcome" to mean the patient died, he added.

And officials in India have excellent grammar but tend to use flowery language like: "He was conveyed to his place of residence in a state of alcoholic intoxication."

Mr Maher said: "By taking our fight overseas we can work with fellow campaigners across the globe to make sure needlessly complicated language has no hiding place."

The Plain English Campaign was founded to fight unclear public information.

It funds itself through commercial activities including editing and training.

Campaigning work includes annual awards for good use of plain English and booby prizes for the overuse of jargon.

The Campaign's Crystal Mark seal of approval now appears on more than 7,000 documents worldwide.
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Copyright 2002 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 10, 2002
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