Monday, August 11, 2008

The Fascist Octopus Has Sung Its Swan Song

Jeepers, two George Orwell posts in two days.

The lurid phrase above comes from
Politics and the English Language, a short but excellent essay by Orwell on the art of writing clearly in English. He has particular censure for buzzwords.

This essay is from 1946, but contains many wise words for anyone putting quill to parchment or post to blog.

A summary in Orwell's words:
But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

i. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

ii. Never use a long word where a short one will do.

iii. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

iv. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

v. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

vi. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
I especially like rule vi, and plan to (ab)use it with great profligacy.

(via 43 Folders)

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