January 27, 2005
Orwell online

Charles' Orwell links is a great George Orwell resource. Over at that website, I read Politics and the English Language. 59 years after Orwell wrote it, it still feels fresh.

".. English language ...becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts ... Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers."

Towards the end of this essay, Orwell wrote that all writers should follow the following rules:

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

Now that's hard! I almost wrote 'like a breath of fresh air' at the end of the first paragraph and 'easier said than done' at the beginning of this paragraph ....

Posted by Kaushik at January 27, 2005 07:36 AM | TrackBack
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