Winners of the 2006 ‘Golden Bulls Awards’ for Gobbledegook

The votes have been counted and the winners announced for the Plain English Campaign’s 2006 ‘Golden Bulls Awards’, in recognition of outstanding achievements in gibberish and gobbledegook.

This year’s competition has been one of the hardest fought yet. Politicians, public offices and legal departments have been pulling out all the stops in their efforts to produce the most convoluted, indecipherable attempts at communication.

The judges are believed to have been impressed by the level, and volume, of jargon and claptrap they encountered. It was apparent that no government department were prepared to give an inch in their efforts to win this year’s prestigious competition.

But unfortunately there can only be a few winners.

Always a strong performer, the Institute of Fiscal Studies entered with this concise sentence:

“While the literature on nonclassical measurement error traditionally relies on the availability of an auxiliary dataset containing correctly measured observations, this paper establishes that the availability of instruments enables the identification of a large class of nonclassical nonlinear errors-in-variables models with continuously distributed variables.”

But regional councils traditionally make a strong showing; this year was no exception.

Fife Council gained plaudits from the judges for this pithy handling of bin collection timetables:

“It has been brought to our attention that due to changes made to your grey household wastes bin collection dates within your new calendar. Your bin will be emptied week beginning the 20th March 2006, then next collection would not be until the week beginning the 10th April 2006. Thus having to wait 3 weeks for collection.

Therefore we are to provide a normal collection on your normal collection day, week starting the 3rd April and again on your new collection date, week starting the 10th April then there after every 2 weeks.”

Not to be outdone, Eastleigh Borough Council provided a poignant example of the masses of unfathomable notices sent out every year:

“Hereby in accordance with the provision of the Building Act 1984, Section 32 declares that the said plans shall be of no effect and accordingly the said Act and the said Building Regulations shall as respects the proposed work have effect as if no plan had been deposited.”

But the trophy awaited with the most baited breath was the highly contested ‘Foot in the Mouth’ award. Only the most inadvertently ambiguous or clumsy orators could hope to win such an accolade.

Previous winners have included Boris Johnson MP, Richard Gere and Donald Rumsfeld. Anybody short listed in such highbrow company should consider their verbal skills honoured.

This year’s recognition for services to public speaking was awarded to supermodel Naomi Campbell for her innocuous comment:

“I love England, especially the food. There’s nothing I like more than a lovely bowl of pasta.”

She is rumoured to have said this without a hint of irony, but was unavailable to elaborate or to receive her award.

And so another year closes in this showcase of the country’s finest scribes.Delegates from the regional Councils, Office of Fiscal Studies and County Courts are now all off to the after party.

Once returned from their Christmas break they will be back hard at work composing their submissions for next year’s competition. I have little doubt there will, yet again, be a steady stream of gobbledegook and claptrap to keep the judges amused for another year.

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