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  1. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    George Orwell's list of rules for clear language

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by EyezForYou, Jul 26, 2009.

    This is from Orwell's essay, "Politics and the English Language" about the abuse and decay of the English language. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

    I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understand, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

    Now in modern English:

    Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels to the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredicate must invariably be taken into account.

    Which is keen to the ear? Which is easier to understand? Which is straightforward and pleasing to the eye. Let us all write like the people in the days of the Bible, for they are the paragon of exemplary writing. Open up a Bible, and you will marvel at all the literary techniques and metaphors (parables and symbolisms) that adorn the pages. No other book compares or even comes close.
     
  2. SA Mitchell
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    SA Mitchell Member

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    I understood them both about equally(that is to say I still don't know what it is trying to say). The first sentence sounded like it was written by someone who was still learning the language they were writing in; the second used too many superfluous words in place of better, shorter words. Also the Bible wasn't originally an English text and it cannot be judged as one.
     
  3. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    I like rule number 6.

    In fact, all lists of "writing rules" should end with: "Feel free to break any or all of these rules if you feel you need to." ;)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nah. That rule is one you shouldn't learn too early, or you won't have developed the wisdom to know when to break a rule and when not to.
     
  5. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Thing is, I don't believe in rules when it comes to writing. There are plenty of good advice that one does well to listen to, of course, but getting it into ones head that there are "things you're not allowed to do" is inherently unhealthy.

    I'd rather see an inexperienced writer earn that wisdom the hard way, by listening to advice, making choices and taking risks.
     
  6. Rowley
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    Rowley Member

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    As said above, I do not believe in "rules" when it comes to writing [Not counting grammar and the like]. I believe in good advice that can be implemented by the author where and when appropriate. You don't "have" to do anything a certain way with a certain attitude or at a certain time. Thinking that you must do exactly what everyone around you wants you to do isn't healthy thinking. When it comes to writing I like doing what I want and if people notice some problems with how I wrote things out, or anything like that then I probably will take what their thoughts were to consideration and improve.

    Besides, writing with big words isn't always a problem, sure I think that having a huge complex word for every single word in a story would be a bit much, but one every now and again isn't so bad. It expands the reader's vocab.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Running is just a modified form of walking, which in turn finds its foundation in the crawl prior to those first stumbling steps. This progression of learning is just that, a progression. You don't go to the Boston Marathon directly from the crib.
     
  8. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Keep the rules. Hell, add more. A true artist will never hesitate to break any "rule" that stands in between Creation and the written page anyway. The rules are there for a reason, but if you're the type that will reject a good idea because it's "against the rules", your writing probably won't be that good anyway, so no great loss.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you cannot write well within the rules, breaking them will merely result in utter crap.

    The rules are there for the novices who don't yet know how to write. Tell them that the rules are optional, and they'll never learn why the rules exist, and therefore when they should consider stepping beyond them.

    You don't set a fourteen year old loose with a an arsenal of loaded weapons without first teaching him gun maintenance and safety. Even then, you first train him with strict supervision and regulations on a training range with small caliber single action weapons until he has proven himself to be responsible.

    No one's going to get killed with a carelessly-wielded pen, but there is still a learning curve. And of course no novice thinks he or she needs to learn in a systematic manner.
     
  10. JavaMan
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    JavaMan Senior Member

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    Hmmm... Edgar Poe actually had rules that were a bit different. Poe held a piece of writing in high esteem when it had plently of big words and foreign phrases. I suppose it was to do with overall style. I mean, Poe could be considered an elitist, while Orwell the opposite.

    The two examples at the end of the first post are good ones, but it can be said that one is poetic, while the other scientific.

    Just my thoughts....
     
  11. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    It's interesting to note that George Orwell's "rules" compared to E.B. White's list of "rules" is nearly identical, if not inseparable. These are advices we should take to heart... before we break them.

    You must read it slowly. Bite after bite, in morsels, soaking up each word--especially with Biblical passages.

    The Bible was meant to read slow, incredibly slowly, with care and caution. That's how you will understand the hidden message and parable. Speed reading is dangerous with the Bible and a major no-no; it's like doing fifty around a bend.
     
  12. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    In all fairness to GO, he did say that he did not think of these in terms of the LITERARY use of the language.
     
  13. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    George Orwell was a wise man. If you are not going to apply these rules, at least remember them...
     
  14. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is that why there are so many different interpretations of the "hidden message"? Cuz people were reading it at different speeds?
     
  15. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Not just different speeds, but their incorporating their own bias as well.

    There can be only one interpretation--as God intended it.

    But people's bias and own carnal fantasy causes them to twist all the passages to fit their corrupted needs and wants. Like the slave owners back in the day justifying slavery by reading the verses out of context, or the crazy folks who believe their the Messiah, and its their right they have sex with little children and drink cherry punch filled with arsenic. Or many other athiests who believe the Bible supports murder of homosexuals or women as unequal or bringing up the Crusades to label and generalize the message of Christianity. And ludicruous Christians who believe they can physically handle snakes or speak in tongues or work miracles by laying their hands on the sick.

    This all happens because they read the passages out of context, conforming it to their warped mind. They don't let the Bible speak for itself.
     
  16. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    You think it can speak for itself? Like, there's only one right interpretation?
     
  17. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Hmm, what happened to my post that shows the verse ecc 9:11 in modern English, the ESV?
    Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all. (Ecc. 9:11, English Standard Version)
    I think this shows a better contrast between new and old Enlgish. Modern English is still awesome. Technical writing has pretty much always been bland.

    Here are some rules I have been trying to follow.

    Make the subject short.
    Get from the subject to the verb quickly.
    Get from the verb to the object quickly.

    Match characters to subjects.
    Match actions to verbs.
    Turn nominalization into verbs.

    There are exceptions to these rules.

    Put familiar information before new information.
    Put simple information before complex information.
    Put short information before long information

    Remove as many of these as possible: where is, where are, where was, there is, there was, there are, etc.

    To lengthen sentences, add resumptive modifiers, summative modifiers, free modifiers, and introductory phrases
     
  18. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    I'm sorry, but I don't think--I know, because that is what it tells me in the actual pages itself.

    It says there is only one interpretation, within the Bible. The Bible says not to interpret the words your own way, but to actually compare "scriptures with scriptures" to reveal the hidden truth.

    If you want verses backing this up, PM me.
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    All quoted material must be properly attributed. Yours was not. ESV is not a sifficient attribution.
     
  20. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    And what if I interpret those verses differently than you do?
     
  21. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Again, PM me. This thread is not for Bible study.
     
  22. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Ecc. 9:11 ESV, should be enough, right?
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Expanding the acronym would be better
     
  24. *BK*
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    *BK* Member

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    Wouldn't you providing out of context verses be the same self serving agenda you're preaching out against?


    And I'm glad I stumbled upon this because I'm going to start writing and following these rules.
     
  25. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    EyezForYou, try having eyes for the topic at hand. Please do NOT throw the thread off topic with insipid Bible preaching...
     

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