Watch What You Write: This page is devoted to defending the English language and encouraging disciplined writing. Our regular contributor will be Adrianne LeMan who will seize on sloppy writing and firmly remind us of the need to write correctly. However, we welcome other contributors. Just send your piece or any comments on what we have published to editor@adasia.com.sg


Adrianne LeMan

This is an extract from a newspaper article that was clearly written straight from a press release (as they often are). It’s worrying that information coming from universities was written in such gobbledygook (dictionary definition: nonsense or jargon).

“Warwick University and Queen Mary, University of London, are to ‘share teams that work on increasing the diversity of their student populations, and will work together on their outreach activities in schools’.”

What does “diversity” mean in this context? Why “student populations” and not “students”? And why “outreach activities” and not simply “activities”?


Adrianne LeMan originally trained as a designer. She worked on the art desks of newspapers and magazines before moving on to work for, and run, design consultancies. Since 1992, when she founded her own business, she has also written and edited annual reports, websites, brochures, etc, for a wide range of major companies. She retired from her business in 2008 and now works as a freelance writer/editor – again working for major companies. She is interested in words: their use, and misuse, the way they are spelled and the way they look. She is also interested in the use, and misuse, of language, which should be clear and to the point. 

Adrianne has a post graduate degree in design from the Royal College of Art and an MA in Contemporary History and Politics from Birkbeck College, London University.