Friday, June 24, 2011

DepEd Order No. 88 s. 2010: Plain English / Plain Language revisions

2010 deped revised manual regulations private schoolsNotes: (1) Please read my post “Plain English, Plain Language or Plain Writing for government offices and private companies in the Philippines.” (2) I conduct seminars for government offices or private companies that want to train their staff in Plain English. Please email me at gtgalacio@yahoo.com or text 0927-798-3138 for details. (3) For interactive grammar exercises, please visit my “Better English for everyone” website; I also have interactive quizzes on Plain English / Plain Language. (4) If the tables do not look right, try using Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. (5) These revisions are my own and are used only to illustrate Plain English principles. If there are conflicts between my revisions and the official DepEd Order, you must follow the Order.

The Department of Education issued the “2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education” through DepEd Order No. 88 s. 2010. Posted below are my plain language revisions of this DepEd Order.

BeforeAfter
1. This Department hereby issues the enclosed “2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education” (2010 Revised Manual for brevity) for the guidance and compliance of all concerned stakeholders in basic private education.1. We are issuing the enclosed “2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education” (2010 Revised Manual for brevity) for the guidance and compliance of all stakeholders in basic private education.


Plain English / Plain Language revisions:
Instead of “This Department,” I used “We” because it is clear from the letterhead and logo that it’s the DepEd issuing the Order.

I deleted “hereby” since it adds nothing and nothing is lost by deleting it. (Drafting Wills, Trusts, and Other Estate Planning Documents: A Style Manual, by Kevin D. Millard)

George Hathaway, chair of the State Bar of Michigan's Plain English Committee since 1983, says about avoiding “hereby”:
“Law students usually write well, but when they get into actual practice, they switch. A fine example is the word hereby. You would be amazed at how many law students know they should not use the word hereby when writing their brief for a legal writing class; when they get out into practice, however, there are 49 other types of documents, and in those 49 other documents, they usually use the word hereby.”
Paragraph 1 of the Order states that for brevity, the manual should be referred to as “2010 Revised Manual.” Yet, paragraph 4 inconsistently uses the complete title “2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education.”

I deleted the modifier “concerned” since stakeholders, by definition, would be concerned.

BeforeAfter
2. Any part or provision of the enclosed 2010 Revised Manual, which may be held invalid or declared unconstitutional, shall not affect the effectivity and efficiency of operation and implementation of the remaining parts or provisions thereof.2. Any part or provision of the 2010 Revised Manual that may be held invalid or declared unconstitutional will not affect the validity of its other parts or provisions.



Plain English / Plain Language revisions:
The expression “which may be held invalid or declared unconstitutional” (incorrectly) uses the relative pronoun “which” instead of “that.” In formal American English, “that” is used for restrictive clauses while “which” (surrounded by commas) is used for non-restrictive clauses. A clause is non-restrictive if it merely provides additional information and can be removed without changing the meaning. But in paragraph 2 of the Order, removing the “which” clause leads to this nonsensical statement:
“Any part or provision of the enclosed 2010 Revised Manual shall not affect the effectivity and efficiency of operation and implementation of the remaining parts or provisions thereof.”
In British English, there is no distinction between “that” and “which.” Most Filipinos, unaware of the difference between restrictive and non-restrictive clauses, use “which” instead of “that.” (I have also made this mistake on several occasions.) But to achieve precision in government communications, we must follow the American English distinction between the relative pronouns “that” and “which.” (Please read Jose Carillo’s English Forum article “Learning to use the relative pronouns confidently.”)

I used “will not” instead of “shall not.”

I used the single word “validity” instead of the wordy and pompous expression “effectivity and efficiency of operation and implementation.”

I deleted “thereof.”

BeforeAfter
3. Any existing Department Circulars, Orders, Memoranda, such as the 1992 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools (8th edition) issued as DECS Order No. 92. s. 1992 dated August 10, 1992, or any parts thereof which are contrary to or inconsistent with any provision of the enclosed 2010 Revised Manual shall be deemed repealed or modified accordingly.3. The 2010 Revised Manual supersedes any contrary or inconsistent provisions of Department Circulars, Orders, Memoranda, such as DECS Order No. 92. s. 1992 dated August 10, 1992 (Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools, 8th edition).





Plain English / Plain Language revisions:
I used the word “supersedes” instead of the phrase “repealed or modified.”

The Order incorrectly uses the word “deemed.”. Bryan A. Garner, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, in his book on language and writing says that “the word deem should create a legal fiction, not state a truth.”

synthesis legal canadaIn “Synthesis: Legal Reading, Reasoning and Writing in Canada” (by Margaret Elizabeth McCallum, Christina L. Kunz, Deborah A. Schmedem), the authors recommend:

Avoid use of the term “to deem” as a substitute for “to think” or “to consider”. The word means “to treat [a thing] as being something that it is not, or possessing certain qualities it does not possess”. In this technical sense, “deem” is used in statutes to create a legal fiction; for example, a statute that requires applications to be originals signed by the applicant may provide that faxed applications will be deemed to be originals.

BeforeAfter
4. The enclosed 2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education shall take effect beginning school year 2010-2011.4. The 2010 Revised Manual of Regulations will take effect beginning school year 2010-2011.



Plain English / Plain Language revisions:
The word “enclosed” is used four times in this Order to modify the 2010 Revised Manual. After paragraph 1 where the word is first used, “enclosed” should no longer have been used. All references to the 2010 Revised Manual cannot possibly refer to any other manual. Yet, paragraph 4 inconsistently uses the complete title “2010 Revised Manual of Regulations for Private Schools in Basic Education.”

BeforeAfter
5. Immediate dissemination of and strict compliance with this Order is hereby directed.5. We direct all stakeholders to immediately disseminate and comply with this Order.

Plain English / Plain Language revisions:

“Immediate dissemination of and strict compliance with this Order is hereby directed” is boilerplate text written in the passive voice. I rewrote it using the active voice.



Related posts (Before and After revisions of selected government communications):

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