Wednesday Seminar: The Elephant in the Room: Non-native speakers in plain language education

Johan L. Tønnesson (Professor, ILN) will discuss plain language in Norway with reference to people with non-Norwegian linguistic backgrounds.

Please note this is a closed event for MultiLing members only.


The International Plain Language Federation defines plain language this way: “A communication is in plain language if its wording, structure, and design are so clear that the intended audience can easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information.” In the B.A. programme, we have added an important component into the concept: Rhetorical citizenship, cf. PhD Ida Seljeseth’s trial lecture this year. However, citizens with non-Norwegian linguistic background is to a very low degree integrated in the scholarly discussion and the teaching in the field plain language in Norway. While it is impossible in Norwegian authorities’ practical communication activities to ignore that the population of today is highly multi-cultural and multilinguistic, I must admit that this topic is much of an elephant in our rooms for research, teaching and dissemination. In my lecture, I will invite Multiling to identify the elephant and contribute to the filling of this gap.



Johan L. Tønnesson (born 1956) is professor of sakprosa (subject-oriented prose) from 2005 and takes part in the researchers’ group Text and Rhetoric at ILN. As head of the B.A. programme Klart språk (Plain language), founded in 2009, he was recently presented in a short UiO film (with English subtitles). His two dissertations The Voices of Science (1998) and Text as a Score (2004) are about multi-vocality in historiographical texts. Editor-in-chief in the Nordic journal Sakprosa since its founding in 2009. Former editor of Apollon, project director in Norsk Form (centre for design, architecture and the built environmeng), project manager in NAVF (predecessor to RCN).

Published Oct. 13, 2021 5:04 PM - Last modified Oct. 13, 2021 5:09 PM