George Orwell

George Orwell
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George OrwellFrom Politics and the English Language:

  • Bad writing has two qualities: staleness of imagery and lack of precision.
  • Tabulate your thoughts in precise and detailed ways.
  • Prefer concrete to the abstract.
  • The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
  • There is no such thing as keeping out of politics. All issues are political issues.
  • Grammar is of no importance, so long as the meaning is clear.
  • If you simplify your language, you are freed from the orthodoxy.
  • Put off using words and get the meaning clear through pictures and sensations.
  • Then choose – not simply accept – words that will conver the meaning.
  • Pick words for the sake of their meaning and invent images to make the meaning clearer.
  • Use arresting imagery, simple verbs, and short words.
  • 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 outright barbarous.
  • In every sentence ask yourself: what am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

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