The Value of Clear Language

I read a great article today by George Orwell on the topic of modern English writing.  I am hesitant to post a link here because you will notice that many of the habits he decries can be found in my writing.  However, I think that it is well worth the read.  His basic point is that writers need to be clear about what they are writing.

Here are a couple of the quotes that stood out to me:

  • “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”
  • ‎”…prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.”

Here are some rules Orwell provides for those of us who need help:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

The article is entitled, Politics and the English Language and can be read in its entirety by following the link.