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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Politics and the English Language

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.

George Orwell had this and more to say about the process of writing. It’s all been said before, and there are many who have repeated it later, but it is, nevertheless, good advice and worth remembering.

3 Responses to “Politics and the English Language”

  1. kimbofo says:

    When I got my first journalism job in the UK back in 1998 my news editor gave me a copy of Orwell’s rules to keep on my desk for reference and I have followed them religiously ever since. Now, as a mentor for newbies, I hand out the same set of rules, because I truly believe they help writers and sub-editors alike compose tighter, easier-to-understand copy. My favourite rule is ‘never use a long word when a short word will do’ and I am often heard muttering this when I have to proof pages filled with waffle!!

    jb says. It’s always good to have someone around who lives with these concepts in the real world.

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