George Orwell Politics and the English Language Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes.
Language is considered a decorative art, fit for entertainment and culture, but practically useless in comparison to the concrete sciences. Just look at the value of a college degree in English versus one in computer science or accounting.
But is this an accurate assessment of value? Language is the primary conductor between your brain and the minds of your audience. Ineffective language weakens and distorts ideas.
If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority. In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics.
This is hardly a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable.
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response.
Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images. Never use a long word where a short one will do. When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied: Does he really think big emotions come from big words?
I know them all right.
But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree Ezra Pound. Less is always better. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand: The man was bitten by the dog.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call.
You want your ideas to spread right? Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous.
This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense. These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than you think. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read.
Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list.Jul 28, · Keep the rules.
Hell, add more. A true artist will never hesitate to break any "rule" that stands in between Creation and the written page anyway. The rules are there for a reason, but if you're the type that will reject a good idea because it's "against the rules", your writing probably won't be that good anyway, so no great loss.
If it makes the writing clearer and helps the reader understand something better, then go ahead and do it. I have these rules tacked up over my desk at home, and they help tremendously.
In fact, I’m going to print out a copy to go over my desk at work right now. George Orwell's 6 Rules for Writers. Pixar's 22 Rules of Storytelling. Writing Is Hard Work. Writing WhitePapers. Writing Your Way. Yankee Pot Roast.
You Don't Say. Podcasts. Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do. Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. Literary Tourist. Literary legend, George Orwell wrote an essay in called Politics and the English Language as something of a cure for the state of writing in publications of the day.
benjaminpohle.com brings to light 5 rules from said essay that will bring out your writing from the pack. Literary legend Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, would have been today.
Though he remains best remembered for authoring the cult-classics Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. So, writing to me is a constant struggle of writing lots of words and then cutting them. The sixth rule, in my opinion, is for those who has mastered the first five ones.
Writing by the rules guarantees you write decently; after you learn to use the rules perfectly, you can break them in such a way that it only makes your writing better.