Plain Language


Airdate: October 24, 2017

Deborah Bosley brings clarity to complex information. She is a plain language expert who re-envisions language so that readers might better understand and respond. She is owner and principal of The Plain Language Group, a consultancy that helps businesses improve internal and external communication. Her work includes developing and designing documents to meet plain language regulatory requirements, helping clients communicate more effectively, and serving as an expert witness on plain language compliance. Her clients include corporations, government agencies and professional firms. She is a former professor of English (technical communication) at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. She has published extensively and has presented at conferences throughout the world on clear communication. Deborah earned an undergraduate and master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Writing from Illinois State University.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in plain language and a personal journey of repairing the world one sentence at a time. 


  • Deborah explains how technical communication is informed by theories of rhetoric and psychology to create meaning and inform with empathy.

  • She reveals what makes technical communication difficult to do and the difference between technical communication and plain language.

  • She discusses how plain language addresses terms of art within what she calls discourse communities.

  • Deborah explains why she doesn't market herself as a writer and how revising is something else entirely than editing.

  • She reveals who she was as a child, where she grew up, and what her family life was like.

  • Deborah tells stories about Eugene McCarthy, Norman Mailer, Grant Park and Woodstock.

  • She shares her career path from being a school teacher to an editor to a bookbinder to a professor and why she calls herself an accidental entrepreneur.

  • Deborah talks about what she is reading, what feeds her spirit and how she is wiser today than when she was young.

plus Mark's Personal Word Essay: The Ink is Black, The Page is White

To Learn More About Deborah


  • What struck you about Deborah's comments?

  • What is good communication?

  • How does plain language or the lack of it affect you?

  • What feeds your spirit?

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This episode is sponsored by Blumenthal Performing Arts, celebrating its 25th year presenting the best in performing arts.