Politicians told to mind their language - and drop jargon
Published 04/02/2016 | 02:30
Champions of plain speaking have devised a dictionary to help voters with the onslaught of political jargon over the coming weeks.
Within moments of the General Election being declared, the airwaves were swamped with clichés and buzzwords, - including the new favourite, 'fiscal space'.
In response, the National Adult Literacy Agency (Nala) has pulled together a plain English guide to the way politicians and commentators speak to us.
It explains well-worn phrases used during every election campaign that are often misunderstood, such as 'the hustings', 'tallyman' and 'marginal seat'.
Inez Bailey, director of Nala, said politics is awash with terms many people do not understand: "That's why we wrote this guide - to help people to better understand what is being said," she said.
"We hope that the guide will help more people get involved in political activity and the General Election."
Ms Bailey urged political parties to use less jargon and be more aware of the issues faced by the one in six adults with literacy difficulties in Ireland.
"While political jargon allows politicians to talk about issues in a quicker, coded way, it can also act as a real barrier for people accessing information," she added.
Here is a sample of terms from 'Election 2016: Plain English Guide to Political Terms':
- Bandwagon effect: the tendency for a popular candidate or proposal to gather even more support simply because they appear to be winning; also called the 'snowball effect'.
- Canvassing: trying to win votes by contacting voters directly, for example by going door to door.
- Quota: the number of votes a candidate needs to win a seat under the proportional representation (PR) system.
- Single transferable vote: a system of voting in which several seats are available in a constituency. A person votes for their preferred candidate, and any unused votes for that candidate (for example, if they already have enough to be elected) are transferred to other candidates in the constituency until all seats are filled.
- Swing voter: a person who votes, but whose support can switch from one political party to another, depending on the issue at stake.
- Tallyman: A person who attends the counting of votes and, by watching the process, carries out an unofficial count of the ballot papers as the official count progresses.