Archives for January 2018

Making readability studies readable

Readability is in crisis. Even the abstracts from studies on readability are virtually incomprehensible. Let’s see what they really say.

What is readability? It’s a measure of how easy a text is to read. For example, how easy is it to read a blog post or white paper you wrote.

Readability is most commonly measured in grade levels. The average person reads in the range of Grade 6 to Grade 8. This might shock you. You’ve had 12 grades of education. Or you’ve had 15 or even 20. But you still read at a Grade 8 level or lower. Yes, you can read at a higher level, but you would do so only when you have to. Why is this?

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17 lies the English language tells you

English, like any language, is straightforward. Words mean what they mean. And if you believe that, you’ve been lied to.

“When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

So said Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking-glass.

FACT: hundreds of English words don’t actually mean what we mean by them.

These are the little white lies that the English language tells us. We all use the words incorrectly, because if we all agree (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more), then words actually take on the meaning that they don’t mean.

Here are just a few examples I’ve plucked out of an ocean of misused meanings. [Read more…]