Says George Orwell:
A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:
- What am I trying to say?
- What words will express it?
- What image or idiom will make it clearer?
- Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
And he will probably ask himself two more:
- Could I put it more shortly
- Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
See also: George Orwell at Encyclopedia Britannica.
James Shelley on his blog:
Put a group of people in a room. Give them a whiteboard, pens, and markers. Ask them to develop an idea.
Put the same group of people in another room. Give them pipe cleaners, Play-Doh, a stage, a guitar, and LEGO. Ask them to develop an idea.
How different will the ideas be that emerge from the two different rooms?
In other words: How do the tools we use determine what we come up with?… or whether we engage at all.
It’s a question worth asking – in addition to location, time and venue.
Perhaps our people fail to come up with new solutions or ideas because we always ask them for those novel ideas in the same meeting, in the same place, in the same manner, and using the same tools.
p.s. The tile of the post is not a typo 🙂
L’utilisation de l’anglais se banalise en France et dans de nombreux pays. Ce phénomène ancien est aujourd’hui porté par la mondialisation de l’économie, dont l’anglo-américain est la langue véhiculaire. Si la classe dirigeante semble l’encourager, des résistances s’organisent. – via Le Monde diplomatique.
Il serait plus précis de parler de l’usage de certains mots en anglais; d’un lexique limité de mots empruntés du monde des affaires ou de la culture anglo-américaine. Les usagers de ce lexique ne sont pas pour autant bilingues. C’est-à-dire qu’ils ne parlent pas nécessairement la langue anglaise. Ils ne l’écrivent probablement pas non plus.
Les résistances? Elles ne sont jamais systémiques. Elles émergent davantage de valeurs partagées. Dans la cas qui nous occupent: aimer la langue, qui veut dire bien la parler et s’efforcer d’en découvrir les richesses et les contours.
with, like, you know, interrogative intonation.
In an earlier post, Mali talks about what teachers make.
One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.
Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change ones own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin, where it belongs.
via George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946.
We have all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, but do our words paint pictures? Can people SEE what we are talking about?
If I had gone for symmetry, I would have asked if our words paint a thousand pictures. But anyone should be so lucky as to be able to paint one… and, more importantly, that it be perceived as such by the person to whom you talk.