/ Eleven / by Ute Volz

Simple language made easy

As a social organization, access to the target group is the foundation of your work. The best way to achieve this is through a common language. The concept of simple language is useful in this regard. We have published a guide in German that explains how to check and adjust your communication with the target group. This manual, “Handbook of Simple Language” (“Handbuch Einfache Sprache”), is the result of our experience with the clarat project. We are recommending these guidelines to all social organizations in Germany.

From 2014 to early 2018, we developed an online help directory, clarat.org. This targeted children, young adults and families as well as refugees. In order to address and reach both target groups as effectively as possible, the clarat team developed what we called the clarat language. This was based on the concept of simple language. Its aim was to reduce linguistic obstacles and difficulties in understanding – for native speakers and non-native speakers alike.

The guide’s author, Julia Naji, was responsible for the area of “Language” in the clarat team. She conveys the experience she gained from developing the clarat language in the “Handbook of Simple Language”. Naji explains the specific application of the concept of simple language in theory and in practice. She also points out how it is distinct from easy language. Moreover, she breaks down the guidelines so thoroughly that no reader will be left behind. As the publishers of this handbook, we are convinced. Not only because we appreciate our experience with clarat being passed on in any way. Even more so because we believe that simplified communication is more effective for most target groups.

A social organization informs its target group about a program, persuades them to participate, supervises them during the project and finally asks them for positive and negative feedback. All of these steps depend on language. If you speak and write directly, clearly and comprehensibly, you will improve your chances of reaching as many people as possible in the target group. The concept of simple language is still flexible enough to allow each organization to develop its own language to suit its own goals and target group. Julia Naji’s Handbook provides useful advice on how to do so.

Finally, in confronting the concept of simple language, we develop a surprising mindfulness for how, when and for whom we use language, and how we could simplify it. This mindfulness is urgently needed for harmonious social interaction – and for avoiding exclusion through language.

Clicking on the title image will open the handbook in pdf format.