Female hand holding white cahlk and pointing to a small blackboard with calculations and E=MC2 equation on it

Common objections to Plain English #4

OBJECTION #4: My subject matter is too complex for Plain English.

Some of the world’s finest minds in science, medicine, philosophy and law would beg to differ. And so to end this mini-series, I shall leave them to speak for me.


Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in language comprehensible to everyone.’ Albert Einstein

  • Stephen Hawking: The renowned physicist was a champion of plain language. He believed that using simple language was a sign of clear thinking rather than a lack of intelligence.

Vague forms of speech have so long passed for mysteries of science; and hard words mistaken for deep learning, that it will not be easy to persuade either those who speak or those who hear them, that they are but a hindrance to true knowledge.’ John Locke

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The late Supreme Court justice was known for her clear and concise writing, which made her opinions accessible to a wide audience. She believed that the law should be understandable to the average person, not just to legal scholars.

The murkiness that plagues so much official and legal prose is usually generated by the writer, not by the substance. It comes more from bad style than from the inherent difficulty of the subject.’ Professor Joseph Kimble

The language of law must not be foreign to the ears of those who are to obey it.Billings Learned Hand

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson: The astrophysicist and science communicator is known for his ability to explain complex scientific concepts in language anyone can understand. For Neil, clear communication is essential for scientific progress and for raising public interest in important topics.

The chief virtue that language can have is clearness, and nothing detracts from it so much as the use of unfamiliar words.’ Hippocrates


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