Travels inspired by the Wombles

Sunday, 2 August 2009

A timeless reminder

Yesterday, for no particular reason, I picked up a small book of articles by George Orwell, from Penguin's Great Ideas series. It includes Politics and the English Language, a passionate attempt to nail a link between the use of English in politics and the decline of the language. There is also a list of points for writers to follow:

"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."

Elsewhere in the article, Orwell admits that he often breaks the rules he advocates...but he has a point. I think business should take some of the blame, too, having spent many hours in meetings which turn into games of buzzword Bingo. I'll try to bear Orwell's advice in mind for the book and this blog...

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