Understanding Technical Language

Reviewing literature for the general public

This literature review looks at whether the general public understands technical language it comes across legislation, medical, taxation, etc. and whether there is any evidence to suggest that minorities have a greater or lesser understanding of such language. Understanding Technical Language: A Literature Review (2007) examined three primary methods of evaluation: readability, comprehension studies, and literacy rates. Selected studies use readability tests, paraphrasing, questionnaires, and interviews as methodologies for testing comprehensibility.

The research reaches the general conclusion that the general public does not understand technical language, and that factors such as a lack of literacy and education affect the public’s understanding of technical language. Since these factors are more prevalent among minority groups, one can infer that minorities experience greater difficulty in understanding technical language. Studies also suggest that while redrafting language to be more simple improves comprehension, it does not perfect it, suggesting that language is not the only factor affecting comprehension.

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