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Monday, June 11, 2012

Keep calm, and say it plainly | Malie Lalor, OxfordWords blog

Ever since I first read an ancient edition of Ernest Gowers’ book on plain English about fifteen years ago, I’ve tried to put his guidelines into practice whenever I write. I don’t always get it right – I’m sure you’ll catch me out in this piece of writing – but I always try.
And so, Lalor begins her blog. She goes on to answer these questions:
What is plain English, and why should you use it?
When should you use plain English?
Lalor also discusses the six rules for writing plain English in George Orwell's well-known essay, “Politics and the English Language” (1946).
  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 like her conclusion:
For me, the golden rule is: think about your readers, and don’t make them work too hard. When you follow that rule, you will find yourself striving to get your meaning across effectively, and doing the hard work of writing plainly yourself, rather than risk confusing your readers.
This article is featured in today's (June 11) Creativity Connections paper, available at the Creativity tab above.

For more information on writing in plain English, see Garbl's Plain English Writing GuideCheck out the pages below to learn how to improve your writing skills by using plain-English techniques:

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