This lunchtime the Secretary General sang. The EESC’s training and career development sector organises occasional lunchtime conferences with guest speakers¬†addressing themes of general interest to our officials. Today, we were happy to host Paul Strickland, Chairman of the Clear Writing Task Force in the European Commission, and I had the pleasure of introducing Paul and his theme. So I recalled how, when I was studying philosophy at university, my tutor in symbolic logic began a tutorial by singing a song. You can hear the song here. Once he had sung it (and today I sung the first verse of this sweetly saucy ditty), he asked us to study and represent in symbolic form the first sentence; ‘all the nice girls love a sailor’. His point was that the phrase was an example of structural ambiguity: was one lucky sailor loved by all the nice girls? did each nice girl have her own sailor? or was it more that for each nice girl any sailor was lovable? Language is our basic instrument and yet we must frequently communicate from or to languages other than our own. Translators and interpreters are there to help us, but in the first place we can help ourselves – among other things, by avoiding inadvertent ambiguities. I finished with a nice quote from Abe Lincoln; ‘Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.’