by Barbara McNichol
According to Writer’s Almanac, in 1946, George Orwell (famed author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four) wrote an essay called “Politics and the English Language.” In it, he included five rules for effective written communication.
I share these five rules here with my own commentary in red. For the life of me, though, I can’t figure out what the fifth one means. What’s your best guess?
Please share your interpretation of what (v) means in the comment box below. Yes, it can be outrageous!
Orwell’s Five Rules for Effective Written Communication
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you are used to seeing in print. I’d say – Use original, creative figures of speech, not common (worn out) cliches that everyone knows.
(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do. Ditto!!
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. I’d say – Find ways to Whack Wordiness in your writing. (See my blog posts on how to do that.) /wp-admin/post.php?post=250&action=edit
(iv) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Agreed (most of the time)! One of my criteria in creating Word Trippers is selecting everyday words, not obscure ones.
(v) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. Help! Need a translator for this one!
What would you add to Orwell’s list?