Re: Dumbing it down

Subject: Re: Dumbing it down
From: Elna Tymes <etymes -at- LTS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 22:31:32 -0800

Amy -

There's a difference between "dumbing it down" and writing in simple, clear
language. Grammar checkers tend to look at polysyllabic words as a measure of
reading level - the more words you have with three or more syllables, the
higher the reading level. (There's more to the level calculations, of course,
but that's one rule of thumb.) On the other hand, if you can picture a reader
who's like the Norm Abrams* of the engineering/computer workbench - you know,
knowledgeable about his subject, very skilled with certain tools, but not
necessarily very widely read - you get a picture of what simple, clear language
can do for someone.

Another way of thinking about writing simply and clearly is to picture yourself
giving instructions to an older relative who's very intelligent, just not very
knowledgeable about your subject. Again, simple and clear language gets the
point across without coming across as deprecating.

Elna Tymes
Los Trancos Systems

*Norm Abrams - the master carpenter of This Old House and New Yankee Workshop
on PBS

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