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Freedom of speech: How '1984' has entrusted our culture

Reports of his academic performance at Eton vary: The solution, when he was joined by baby Richard and his nanny, was to recruit his highly competent sister, Avril. Could I put it more shortly? Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul, george orwell essay on writing. If, drunk with sight of power, we loose Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe, Such boastings as the Gentiles use, Or lesser breeds without the Law-- Lord God of hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget--lest we forget!



Language is considered a decorative art, fit for entertainment and culture, but practically useless in comparison to the concrete sciences. Just look at the value of a college degree in English versus one in computer science or accounting. But is this an accurate assessment of value? Language is the primary conductor between your brain and the minds of your audience. Ineffective language weakens and distorts ideas.

If you want to be understood, if you want your ideas to spread, using effective language must be your top priority. In the modern world of business and politics this is hardly ever the case. In many instances, imprecise language is used intentionally to avoid taking a position and offending various demographics. This is hardly a recent problem, and as George Orwell wrote in his essay, Politics and the English Language, the condition is curable.

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. This sounds easy, but in practice is incredibly difficult. For this exact reason they must be avoided. Common phrases have become so comfortable that they create no emotional response. Take the time to invent fresh, powerful images. Never use a long word where a short one will do. When Hemingway was criticized by Faulkner for his limited word choice he replied: Does he really think big emotions come from big words?

I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree Ezra Pound.

Less is always better. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Here is an example that makes it easy to understand: The man was bitten by the dog. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. This is tricky because much of the writing published on the internet is highly technical. If possible, remain accessible to the average reader. If your audience is highly specialized this is a judgment call.

You want your ideas to spread right? Break any of these rules sooner than saying anything outright barbarous. This bonus rule is a catch all. Above all, be sure to use common sense. These rules are easy to memorize but difficult to apply. The key is effort. Good writing matters, probably more than you think. It contains many helpful examples and is, of course, a pleasure to read. Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more.

Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list.



Masha Gessen on George Orwell’s essay “The Prevention of Literature” and what it says about the modern condition of creating art in the face of a totalitarian state. IN MY last column, I referred to The Economist’s style guide, which includes George Orwell’s famous six rules for writing, taken from “Politics and the English Language”: (i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are .

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