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ELIPS: European Languages and their Intelligibility in the Public Sphere

Introduction to the ELIPS project

In 2017 EFNIL initiated a new project called ELIPS, an acronym which refers to (the use of) European Languages and their Intelligibility in the Public Sphere, i.e. the use of European languages as instruments of communication for government, legislation and public administration.


Aspects which belong to the scope of the project include:

  • the use of straightforward, reader-oriented and understandable language by public authorities and administration;
  • the acceptance, use, description, availability of good (multilingual) terminology for legislation and public administration;
  • other types of language-related measures for the public sphere, e.g. the use of gender-neutral and/or diverse & inclusive communication and language, reflecting the actual composition of society in terms of class, profession, gender, cultural background, etc...

The first bullet point in this list comprises both plain language and easy-to-read communication, which are different, though related, realities.

Under plain language we understand any communication that uses wording, language, grammatical structure and information design aimed at making meaning as clear and therefore as effective as possible, in order to offer its audience the best possible chance (a) of understanding it immediately, and (b) of readily finding in it what it needs or expects, (c) of using the information it contains, and/or (d) performing the actions that are required. It is clear that plain language is not the same as simplified language or baby talk.

The use of language and communication which is easy to read and understand, on the other hand implies a specific use of simplified language and communication in order to make information accessible to people with intellectual disabilities and/or people with restricted reading and writing skills and/or poor competence in the official language of a country.

Both plain language and easy-to-read language are not only matters of language in the strict sense of the word, but involve extralinguistic realities as well, for instance the way information is structured, graphics and lay-out, use of non-verbal instruments such as drawings or photographic and film material.


As a first step in the project a questionnaire was sent to our member institutions in order to get a clear idea of the situation in the member states and language areas within EFNIL.

The survey based on this questionnaire is published on the ELIPS webpages on the EFNIL website (

This information serves as a reference base for further activities within the project, e.g. for proposals, conferences, partnerships and the like. Each member institution of EFNIL can compare its own national situation with the other language areas and member states represented within EFNIL, which in its turn serves as a basis for further development, e.g. for the formulation of policies and strategies or for the search of partner organisations for projects of common interest.

Project group

The following people are members of the ELIPS project group:

  • Maria Arapopoulou, Greece
  • Júlia Choleva, Slovakia
  • Katre Kasemets, Estonia
  • Ingrid Olsson, Sweden
  • Aino Piehl, Finland
  • Cecilia Robustelli, Italy
  • Johan Van Hoorde, Belgium – Netherlands
  • Lydeke Van Os, Netherlands

Should you have questions or want to be in touch with the project group, please send a message to and mention ELIPS in the subject field. New participants from other member institutions are welcome.

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