Tag Archives: jargon

The importance of recognising the relationship between research and language

Darllenwch y flogbost yn Gymraeg

What constitutes successful research and what role does language play in this? Ena Lloyd shares this post by Jeff Brattan-Wilson of Disability Wales, which is an independent, not for profit organisation established in 1972. They are a membership organisation of disability groups and allies from across Wales.

A photo of Jeff Brattan-Wilson of Disability Wales

Jeff Brattan-Wilson of Disability Wales

On St Valentine’s Day I attended the launch of The Wales School for Social Care Research at the Temple of Peace where I met Jeff Brattan-Wilson from Disability Wales. Jeff asked a great question to the keynote speaker, Peter Beresford OBE. It was one of those occasions where I really wanted to capture the message and share it wider. I chatted to Jeff afterwards and asked if would share his thoughts on our blog.  Here’s his story:

In February this year, I attended the launch of ‘The Wales School for Social Care Research’ at the Temple of Peace.

Peter Beresford OBE (Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Brunel University London and Professor of Citizen Participation, University of Essex) gave a really thought provoking presentation on the impact of research.

Peter was talking about how many significant pieces of research, written over many years, mainly written for specialist journals, usually sit in libraries, on shelves, often presenting as completely inaccessible to people who may not come from a research background.

His talk made me really think about all the research that has taken place in Wales, a large proportion of which could result in profound changes or make a huge difference in Wales, particularly in relation to minority communities.

A question came to me: how do we measure the impact of such research? Is it through the type of journal it is published in? How it successfully progresses one’s career? Or is it about how the findings are actually used in the community and whether they have any significant impact on people’s quality of life?

I asked Peter, “What can we do together to ensure that research is written in everyday language, so that many sectors in Wales can access it and use it as a benchmark to consult with the community?”

The answer was that really we all need to work together; universities, scholars and academics need to understand that they are creating barriers between themselves and those in the wider community by using complex, jargon-heavy language.

Language, we can argue, should be a pathway to promote meaningful conversation – not to be used to promote one’s own language superiority.

Afterwards, at my table, there was a discussion regarding service provision for older people in Wales. It struck me again that while there may well have been multiple strands of research taking place, and multiple solutions found, I fear that it may have all been lost due to the writing style, published only in specialist journals that few people will have heard of.

It’s easy to evidence that people from many different sectors would like to consult with the various communities that exist in society, e.g. various spoken language minority groups or even the British Sign Language community. (British Sign Language is the 3rd indigenous language in Wales, after English and Welsh). In order to consult with the community, it is important to use everyday language.

Now imagine – what if all that research had been written in everyday language? We would have a wealth of ideas, answers, solutions and creative thinking, all readily available at our fingertips.

From the work that Disability Wales has done, it’s clear that the best way to get around this is to co-produce with others. If an academic wants to research the views of a particular group, or the Government wants to consult on matters relating to a specific community, surely the best way to do this is in co-production with that very same group? That way those meaningful conversations can be had, in the everyday language used by those people. Common sense, no?

On writing this blog, I realise that perhaps by being open to how we use everyday language, we are likely to attract a much more diverse range of people who might consider undertaking research themselves, with the range of topics as a result becoming as equally diverse.

Hopefully, funders can take note and request that findings from research should be published in everyday language and in mainstream journals so that all sectors (and all people) can have equal access to it.

One other thing I felt was an important thing to take away from Peter’s presentation: he told us that his mother would read his work. She would tell Peter if she understood it, or not. If she could understand it, then it was suitable for most people; if she couldn’t, then Peter knew he was doing something wrong. I thought this to be a humbling and honest thing to share with the audience. I made a mental note to try to do something similar.

Reminds me of a quote that readily became one of my favourites:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

Nelson Mandela – Former President of South Africa

Jargon busting


Recently we’ve been hearing from the Wales Audit Office Communications Team about how our upcoming new and improved website will be simpler to use and also make it easier for people to find the information that they need.

Andrew Purnell, the Wales Audit Office’s Digital Communications Officer, has been educating us as a team about what an effective website looks like, and also how language plays an important part in that. It’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for if you don’t understand the headings you’re looking under, and it’s even worse if you can’t make head nor tail of the information once you’ve got there. He explained to us how providing a website glossary means that you’ve failed at your duty to provide a clear language website, and if people don’t find the right information first time they’ll simply click away from your site.

As the public service watchdog for Wales, the Wales Audit Office has an important role to play here. It’s important that we show how important it is that information from Welsh public services is clear, because it means that people have a better understanding of the work that we all do.

Cllr Andrew Jenkins recently blogged for us ahead of the upcoming scrutiny conference, saying that ineffective communication between politicians and the electorate has led to distrust in politicians. The same things can also happen with public services, as this moving blog from Mark Neary shows.

There’s lots of information online, including guides from the Plain English campaign and its Drivel Defence tool, as well as the Cymraeg Clîr or ‘Clear Welsh’ handbook from Bangor University.

If you choose to go down this route, there’s no need to start from scratch. Monmouthshire County Council have helpfully already made their staff writing guide available online.

I had the privilege of working with the Citizen’s Panel for Social Services in Wales in my last job with Participation Cymru, where I unfortunately heard too often about how people aren’t given the information they need to help them access the right services for them. It’s important that we all make sure that people can make the most of their public services by making information both easy to find and to understand. I wonder how many public service websites truly do this?

–      Dyfrig

Chwalu jargon


Yn ddiweddar rydyn ni wedi bod yn clywed gan y Tîm Cyfathrebu am sut fydd gwefan newydd sbon Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru yn symlach i’w defnyddio a hefyd yn ei gwneud yn haws i bobl ffeindio’r wybodaeth maen nhw eisiau.

Mae Andrew Purnell, Swyddog Cyfathrebu Digidol Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, wedi bod yn dysgu’r tîm am wefannau effeithiol, a hefyd sut mae iaith yn rhan bwysig o hynny. Mae e bron yn amhosib ffeindio beth chi’n chwilio amdano os nad y’ch chi’n deall y penawdau chi’n chwilio oddi tanynt, ac mae e hyd yn oed yn waeth os nad oes ‘da chi syniad beth mae’r wybodaeth yn ei olygu pan chi’n ffeindio fe. Fe eglurodd e i ni fod darparu rhestr termau i wefan yn golygu eich bod chi wedi methu yn eich dyletswydd i ddefnyddio iaith glir, ac os nad yw pobl yn gallu dod o hyd i’r wybodaeth gywir y tro cyntaf, byddan nhw’n clicio i ffwrdd o’ch gwefan.

Mae gan Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru rôl bwysig i’w chwarae fel corff gwarchod gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Mae’n hanfodol ein bod ni’n dangos pa mor bwysig yw gwybodaeth glir, achos mae’n golygu bod pobl yn cael gwell ddealltwriaeth o’r gwaith rydyn ni gyd yn ei wneud.

Yn y blog gan y Cynghorydd Andrew Jenkins ar gyfer y gynhadledd craffu, dywedodd fod cyfathrebu aneffeithiol rhwng gwleidyddion a’r etholwyr wedi arwain at ddiffyg ymddiriedaeth mewn gwleidyddion. Gall yr un peth digwydd gyda gwasanaethau cyhoeddus, sy’n eglur ym mlog emosiynol Mark Neary.

Mae llawer o wybodaeth ar-lein, gan gynnwys llawlyfr ‘Cymraeg Clir’ Prifysgol Bangor, yn ogystal â chanllawiau ymgyrch Saesneg Clir (Plain English) a’r teclyn ‘Drivel Defence’.

Os ydych chi’n dewis dilyn y llwybr yma, does dim rhaid i chi ddechrau o’r dechrau. Mae Cyngor Sir Fynwy wedi creu canllaw ar gyfer eu staff yn barod ac yn ffodus mae e ar gael ar-lein.

Cefais y fraint o weithio gyda’r Panel Dinasyddion ar gyfer Gwasanaethau Cymdeithasol yng Nghymru yn fy swydd ddiwethaf gyda Chyfranogaeth Cymru, lle yn anffodus ro’n i’n clywed yn llawer rhy aml am bobl yn methu cael y wybodaeth roedden nhw eisiau er mwyn eu helpu nhw i gyrchu’r gwasanaethau cywir. Mae’n bwysig ein bod ni i gyd yn sicrhau bod pobl yn gallu manteisio i’r eithaf ar eu gwasanaethau cyhoeddus drwy sicrhau bod gwybodaeth yn hawdd i’w ffeindio a’i ddeall. Tybed faint o wefannau gwasanaethau cyhoeddus sydd yn wir yn gwneud hyn?