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Advice on English Usage at the UN

Bad English



"A Guide to Writing for the United Nations"

The Official "Guide to Writing
for the UN" published 1984.

The following examples of bad English at the UN are taken from the "Guide to Writing for the United Nations". The list of eleven examples of bad English (three of which are below) was meant to encourage UN Staff Members not writing in their native language - by showing that those native to English get it wrong, too. The writer of the Guide begins with an introduction:

It is sometimes discouraging, always difficult, to try to express ourselves perfectly in a language not our own. But take heart. The statements below were made by well-educated natives, of English-speaking countries: Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, United States (not in that order). I am sure we could improve on them.

I believe it is the Commission's practice to recommend a limited programme of work for the completion of which it considers sufficient funds can be obtained, since it realizes that it would be unwise to recommend a programme which could not be completed through lack of funds if there were not sufficient funds to complete even the limited programme if recommended.
This is from a prepared speech delivered in the Social Commission.

As the details are hammered out and the outlines emerge, it can be seen that above all else it is an individual solution, tailored by the people of the islands themselves.
The tailors in the islands were probably used to making suits of armour.

It will be amply sufficient if the abridged account is made available.
"Sufficient" would be "ample".

Plain and Fancy English at the UN

The Guide also lists simple words often spoken or written not so simply at the UN.
Some of the examples are below. First, the Guide's introduction to the list:

Statesmen use the plain words, politicians the fancy. In the United Nations many fancy words have prevailed just as, according to Gresham's Law, bad money drives out good. Here is an incomplete list:

Plain

Fancy

ask request
because in view of the fact that
before prior to
carry out implement
cause be conducive to
come emanate
explain clarify
if in the event of
in in the position, as regards
now at the present time
pay, allowances emoluments, honoraria
say indicate