Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Merciless Prose, 1947

My friend Bradley sent me George Orwell's essay 'Politics and the English Language' after seeing Best Sellers. In it Orwell argues for a written language that is not exporting surplus and waste. Here are the fast and hard rules:

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. 

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