This site has a lot of question on how to write properly and, naturally, many of the answers are on how to do it well in English. Although, obviously, if you can write well in English, you can write well in other languages since it's a simple matter of applying the general idea to other languages.
Every now and then, though, some questions-answers are very specific to anglophones. One of these is the idea of linguistic simplicity.
Let me clarify from the start: I'm Portuguese and, obviously, I know there are different levels of language complexity. However, throughout my academic life (I studied languages and literature and was often required to write fiction and non-fiction) complexity was seen as a three step process:
- You have natural sounding language, which will vary between an everyday tone and an expert tone depending on what you're writing and your target audience (meaning, there are different levels of complexity within natural sounding language depending on whether you're writing a novel about Daniel's office adventures or about the existencial musings of an organ tuner).
- Then you have simple language, which often requires structures and vocabulary unnaturally simplified (frowned upon by teachers).
- Finally, you have complex language, which often requires structures and vocabulary unnaturally complex (frowned upon by teachers).
So, unless you're writing for a niche elitist audience, you'll steer away from unnaturally complex language, and unless you're writing for children and teens, you will also steer away from the over simplistic language.
And then there's the big catch: a lot of books in the Portuguese national reading plan have structures that are not simplistic and some have vocabuary that definitely isn't a part of everyday life.
So, when I first came across the American (I'm not sure how much this applies to other English-speaking countries) idea that one must write to an average audience at an 8th grade level I was taken aback. I remember my 7th to 9th grade language teachers pointing out simplistic structures and vocabulary and requiring me to improve them (and the same for obscure vocabulary and convoluted structures, obviously), so how come some countries/languages required the language to be simplified when writing? Wasn't that unnatural?
Well, enough with the ranting contextualisation: I have since come to accept that English and Portuguese writing have different requirements and moved on. Yet, the question Do popular books use simpler language? made me wonder whether more countries/language have a similar 'rule' for novels written for the average reader.
I believe this is an important point for writers overall as I can see, say, a Portuguese beginner writer following such a rule and unnaturally simplifying their language without accounting for scope and target audience. While many of the members on this site aim at writing in English and should, therefore, keep the 'rule' in mind, many (I believe) also aim at writing in their own languages, which is not English. So, again, how seriously do other markets hold this 'simplified language' notion? Is it like the Portuguese rule of thumb (make it sound natural) or is there a prescribed level (for the average reader)?