Monday, October 8, 2012
A new study shows that the readability of legal briefs significantly declined between 1969 and 2008. The study suggested that the lawyers believed their writing was not bad enough to affect the results of their cases and that they saw “no benefit to the time-consuming and difficult task of changing their writing styles.”
I would add: The lawyers, having decided not to do anything to improve their writing, wrongly assumed that their writing would not deteriorate because of that decision. They did not realize that all kinds of skills deteriorate unless maintained. This is why, for example, musicians practice every day of their lives.
The Takeaway: Like every American, you hear and read thousands of words of bad English every day. Unless you apply a little conscious effort, you will unconsciously assimilate more and more of that bad English as time goes by. Eventually you will sound indolent, effeminate, semi-literate and childish, like most Americans today. That may be good enough for Boobus Americanus. However, you and I are writers; it is not good enough for us. We have pride of craftsmanship.
Thanks to Cheryl Stephens for pointing out the article about the study.