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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Orwell's Six Rules

These are the George Orwell's Six Rules referred to in the article Solard linked to. This quote is from his essay "Politics and the English Language", the full text of which can be found here.

"But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:
  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."
I think in general, these are sound principles. The key, though, is #6. Rules can be helpful, but if they're messing up your writing, BREAK THEM. The rules are only a means to an end.


Solard said...

Excellent rebuttal (?) amanda! --

Although, one must remark that one does not like the "one" convention in older writings = sounds 'snooty'

Then, who am I to argue with Orwell....

MadeByAmanda said...

Not so much a rebuttal as food for thought, I think. :)

Robin said...

Wow! I was about to jump in with my own "passive voice" google result! I like this one! I Loved yours too Solard, makes me feel better!

Rules, schmules...I'm gon' keep breakin' 'em and not stressing!

Solard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Solard said...

Possibly I should have used the term 'rejoinder' --

Excellent *rejoinder* Amanda!

My legal terminology (or would that be 'Franklin/Douglas' debate terminology?) is a bit rusty -- as it's been over 15 years since I cracked my last college tome!

Ah, well, we're all on the same team on this one, I think ;-)

Glad to see you slipping over to the Dark Side, Robin! As Senator Palpatine says: