US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has won a "Foot in Mouth" award for one of his now legendary bizarre remarks. Mr Rumsfeld won the prize for comments made at a news conference in February last year which left observers baffled. "There are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns," he said. The British Plain English Campaign annually hands out the prize for the most nonsensical remark made by a public figure.
Mr Rumsfeld fought off stiff competition for the award from actor turned California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger among others. Mr Schwarzenegger weighed in on the gay marriage debate with the comment "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman." And European Commissioner Chris Patten came close with his remark that the British Conservative Party had committed political suicide and was now living to regret it. Previous winners of the award have included US actress Alicia Silverstone and actor Richard Gere.
The full quote from Rumsfeld was:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know.
I think it was a well deserved award. Bank statements from the Nat West bank in England used to come with a Plain English Crystal Mark on the back. I wish I could say the same about my current bank statements, which are heavy on the gobbledygook (*). There are several guides on the website, including designing a Plain English website, and how to write Plain English, plus other guides. The whole site is worth reading. And it's easy to read, crystal clear.
* "gobbledygook" means wordy, incomprehensible and generally unintelligible jargon.