Estimated average reading time = 3 minutes
Today, I was working on a technical document when I had to stop mid-scroll and double-check what was on the screen. My eyes saw it. My brain registered it. My mind searched for it. But no, it did not compute.
There on the page, was a word.
Certainly, not one I have come across in business documents before. It was — ‘recordation’!
What was so foreign about it?
For one thing, it was not plain English. All good business documents use plain English. I read a wide variety of literature and I haven’t come across that word in modern texts.
At first, I questioned if the word existed. Then, I questioned if my vocabulary had been deprived somehow?
I had to find out.
According to several online sources, yes, re-cor-da-tion does exist (four syllables).
Merriam-Webster Online defines it as a noun that describes, “the act or process of recording” (circa 1812).
In fact the word has origins in old French, Latin and Middle English. For example, the old French (late 14th century), word, ‘recordacion’ referred to the ‘faculty of remembering’.
So, what does that say already?
Well, for one thing recordation was around long before information technology.
But in fact, recordation is used today in law. It describes, ‘the act of giving legal status to a document by making it an official public record’.
The context for ‘recordation’ in the document I reviewed was one thing that did not compute. The other was the audience.
Who was going to read this document? Certainly not a group of lawyers.
Instead, the word ‘record’, ‘recording’ or ‘recorded’ could easily replace it (depending on how the sentenced is reworded).
The most challenging task ahead is to convince the author of the value of plain English to engage a document’s readers and not use ‘pompous’ or ‘outdated’ language that will lose them.
Have you come across any out-of-context words used inyour business documents not stated as ‘plain English’ ? What are they?