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I'm familiar with Letting go of the Words and www.plainlanguage.gov, and I have seen Sandra Fisher-Martins' Ted Talk, but I was wondering if there were any other sources, particularly academic sources, that talk about plain language, especially ones with a social justice bend.

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  • What exactly are plain languages?
    – Mervin
    Mar 6, 2014 at 16:43
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it seems to be more about English Language & Usage than UX. Mar 6, 2014 at 16:58
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    The choice of tone of voice and complexity of language can have a big impact on how people interact and respond to a website. This is about using language to effect a particular user experience, and not so much about how language is used generally.
    – Erics
    Mar 6, 2014 at 18:02
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    @Erics While I agree with you on that front, the question as asked is not related to UX at all. Plain language is about writing federal agency legal without legal jargon, which is more on the realm of English Language and Usage than UX. There is nothing here about the experience of users as applied to design. Social justice also has nothing to do with UX.
    – Pdxd
    Mar 6, 2014 at 19:38
  • I could have included more detail in the question, but I totally disagree with the idea that plain language and social justice have nothing to do with UX. I have dyslexia and how web content or language in a UI is written and structured has a huge impact on how accessible that design is. And when an app or website is about access to resources (financial, educational, etc.) you better believe an accessible, easy to use UX is a social justice issue. Finally, you don't have to be dyslexic to get a better user experience from better language (e.g. better labels, instructions etc). Mar 7, 2014 at 12:21

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I've found the following peer-reviewed academic journals on the Plain Language topic that you can check out:

The Case for Plain Language By: Douglas, Kristin Vickers; Smith, Becky; Parker, Beverly; Mehr, Holly; Ruud, Kari; Hathaway, Julie; Behrenbeck, Julia; O'Brien, Michael; Smith, Steven; Patient Education Management, 2011 Jul: Supplement: 1-4. (journal article) ISSN: 1087-0296

Introducing Plain Language Principles to Business Communication Students By: Greer, Rachelle R. Business Communication Quarterly. Jun2012, Vol. 75 Issue 2, p136-152.

Can the Law Speak Directly to its Subjects? The Limitation of Plain Language By: Assy, Rabeea. Journal of Law & Society. Sep2011, Vol. 38 Issue 3, p376-404. 29p.

AND THE WINNER IS: HOW PRINCIPLES OF COGNITIVE SCIENCE RESOLVE THE PLAIN LANGUAGE DEBATE By: Baker, Julie A.. UMKC Law Review , Winter2011, Vol. 80 Issue 2, p287-305, 19p

PLAIN LANGUAGE LEGISLATION: A COMPARISON OF APPROACHES By: Leete, Burt A. American Business Law Journal. Winter81, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p511. 14p.

Plain English Laws: Symbolic or Real? By: Timm, Paul R.; Oswald, Daniel. Journal of Business Communication. Spring85, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p31-38. 8p.

And this UX oriented article by Janelle Estes: User-centric vs. Maker-centric Language: 3 Essential Guidelines

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  • Thank you this is exactly the kind of thing I was looking for! Mar 7, 2014 at 11:56

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