I am a Japanese copywriter and I was educated in the United States for a while. When I first came to Singapore, I was really shocked by the language used here. Do I mean “Singlish”? No. What shocked me was copywriting here.
Whenever I see a corporate website, 90% of them are written in complicated, “professional” language and doesn’t lead me to the information I need at all. Almost no brochures were written in plain language either. Yes I have to admit that my English level is not very good but hey, I know half of you Singaporean’s English level is as bad as mine! Who are you trying to reach with those “professional”, “good” English?
Singaporeans are haunted by “Good English”
I admire your effort in past few decades to improve English level of this country. I’ve heard about all those “Speak good English” campaigns and I can see amazing result of it. But the pursuit of “Good English” left you some negative effects I guess. Some of you are trying too hard to sound professional, hypnotising everyone with difficult language, to give the impression that you know how to speak good English.
Forget about good English. Say hello to plain language
The most important function of copywriting is to spread message, so choose simple words whenever you can. In fact, #1 of Japanese copywriting 101 is “Never ever use professional language in copywriting, unless you are trying to stress your target”.
I have found a great plain language checklist created by Center for plain language. It was a little bit too many questionnaires in the list, so I came up with 15 most effective questionnaires and made it into infographic. Hope this helps you cheers!
Download full size here
By: Aya Imura