Plain, but not Simple: Plain Language Research with Readers, Writers, and Texts
Garwood, Kimberley Christine
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Plain language is defined in a variety of ways, but is generally understood to refer to language and design strategies that make texts easier for target audiences to understand and use. Research has helped demonstrate that plain language strategies work, not only to improve reader comprehension, but also to save individuals and organizations time and money. Most plain language research focuses on the outcomes of plain language texts; however, there are a variety of complex processes that happen behind the scenes as these texts are produced. To better understand the complexity of plain language work and the challenges of producing these texts, this dissertation studies plain language using rhetorical and sociolinguistic theories. This framework allows us to see how plain language produces meaning within complex social and cultural contexts. Using the rhetorical triangle as an organizing framework, this dissertation proposes three models of research for studying plain language, each emphasizing a different part of the triangle: readers, writers, and texts.