Learned Writing

Let’s laugh legalese and verbosity out of court and out of hearing. In this course, you will learn how to distinguish sex from gender, use the appropriate pronouns for persons under the law, flee linguistic sexism while remaining readable and learn the 15 Commands of Gender Balance.

Course Structure & Syllabus

On each day of the first 2 days

  • 4 hours of lectures with a PowerPoint presentation (9.30–11.30hs & 12.00–14.00hs)
  • 1 hour of discussion, interaction, questions, and answers (11.30–12.00hs & 15.00–15.30hs)
  • Two hours of writing exercises and tasks (15.30–17.30hs)

On the 3rd day 

  • 4 hours of task presentations (9.30–11.30hs & 12.00–14.00hs)
  • Feedback, testimonials, certificates, and photographs (15.00–16.00hs)

Course Syllabus 

  1. Introduction
  2. Gender Equity in Modern Communication
    • Distinguish sex from gender.
    • Use the appropriate pronouns for persons under the law.
    • Flee linguistic sexism while remaining readable.
    • Learn the 15 Commands of Gender Balance.
    • Use alternatives for sexist terms.
    • Avoid political correctness on steroids. Revise hypercorrection.
    • Are there ladies at the bar and on the bench?
    • Miss or Mrs—what’s the court’s business?
  1. Let’s laugh legalese and verbosity out of court and out of hearing.
    • Mylward v Welden
    • “I give you that orange.”
    • Client care, customer service, and democracy are inhospitable to legalese and verbosity.
    • Write with your readers in mind.
    • Use the 5C+2E formula for writing success.
    • Plain English respects business and legal terms of art, but resists hocus-pocus incantations.
    • Plain English retains the dignity, even majesty, of educated prose.
    • Typical purposes of business and legal writing: (a) to advise, explain, or instruct; (b) to persuade, and (c) to memorialize.
    • Focus on your audience, message, and purpose.
    • Emphasize more with structure, syntax, and vocabulary than with formatting.
    • Adopt a professional tone throughout. Forget your failed comedy career.
    • Seek deliverance from leprous legalese.
  • Beware of clichés.
  • Implement whiz-deletion.
  • Ban and/or.
  • Prefer the active voice. Don’t hide the subject. Don’t bury your verbs in abstract nouns and adjectives.
  • Fear not to begin sentences with Toby’s Fanta conjunctions (then, or, but, yet, so, for, again, nor, thus, and).
  • Eschew intensifiers. (A tiger does not proclaim his tigritude. He pounces.)
  • Learn transitive, intransitive, and linking verbs.
  • Appreciate phrasal verbs and their corresponding nouns.
  • Use mostly short sentences and paragraphs. Use thesis or topic sentences to introduce most paragraphs. Use transition to enhance flow.
  • Embrace and implement parallel structure.
  • Use possessives to introduce gerunds and solve fused-participle difficulties. Situate your modifiers to eliminate confusion. Avoid awkward separation.
  • Use nominative and objective pronouns correctly.
  • Watch whiches and wizthat
  • Strike ‘fatuous lawyerisms,’ elegant variation, and inelegant fixation.
  • Supplant redundant expressions with concise alternatives.
  • Expel expletives. Minimize comment clauses and metadiscourse. Moderate authorial self-reference.
  • Learn proper use of abbreviations, acronyms, clippings, hybrids, and initialisms.
  • Master modern business communication: emails, letters, memos, and reports.
  • Master punctuation: apostrophes, braces, brackets, bullets, colons, commas, ellipses, em-dashes, en-dashes, exclamation points, guillemets, hyphens, parentheses, periods, question marks, quotation marks, semicolons, and slashes.
  • Construct lists and build tables with aplomb.
  • Use mostly digits for your numbers.
  • Format minimally with boldface, capitalization, and italics. Never underline anything.
  • Cite and quote like a pro.
  • Deepen and broaden your learned vocabulary.
  • Cultivate an appreciation for semantic nuance and subtle distinctions.

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