Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Orwell on writing

George Orwell - author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, you know the guy - took on the doublespeak that passes for political prose in a 1946 essay titled "Politics and the English Language." He offered six rules for writing clearly that all of us would do well to follow:

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.

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