Lockdown Blog Days 47 and 48

Saturday, 9th and Sunday, 10th May 2020

After days of speculation, the prime minister today made another address to the nation.

During the day, a preview of the updated message had been spun by ministers on the Sunday politics shows and a range of people had queued up to criticise the semantics. It’s these sorts of changes in language that show just how important words remain.

“Stay home” becomes “stay alert”.

The PM’s message also highlights the need for language to be as clear and as concise as possible. In this evening’s announcement, Boris Johnson outlines a five-step alerting system for responding to Covid-19. Whilst a numerical system is much clearer than the terrorism threat level system of words and colours, this system was based on a huge number of ‘ifs’.

In his address, the PM stressed how much an easing of the lockdown was reliant on certain conditions being met. Because of the wide range of conditions and the large amount of uncertainty, we are left as unclear as before.

Schools might open, possibly in June, if…

You can go back to work, if…

Shops might reopen, if…

Certain sections of the hospitality sector could reopen, if…

‘If’ does not provide clarity.

Whether we’re telling a story, selling a product, or issuing governmental directives, clarity is vital. People need to be clear on your message and I fear that a series of ‘if’ statements doesn’t provide a pathway out of lockdown but instead just muddies the water further.

In other news, and speaking of clarity, if you want to make your writing more clear and consistent, you could head over to the new ‘Resources for Writers’ page and download the style sheet template!

Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Fiction editor and proofreader.

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