Before you write anything, ask yourself these questions

Says George Orwell:

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

More here.

See also: George Orwell at Encyclopedia Britannica.

 

The medium is the massage: on doing the same expecting a different result

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.

More here.

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

L’utilisation de l’anglais se banalise en France et dans de nombreux pays. Ce phĂ©nomĂšne ancien est aujourd’hui portĂ© par la mondialisation de l’économie, dont l’anglo-amĂ©ricain est la langue vĂ©hiculaire. Si la classe dirigeante semble l’encourager, des rĂ©sistances s’organisent. – via Le Monde diplomatique.

Il serait plus prĂ©cis de parler de l’usage de certains mots en anglais; d’un lexique limitĂ© de mots empruntĂ©s du monde des affaires ou de la culture anglo-amĂ©ricaine. Les usagers de ce lexique ne sont pas pour autant bilingues. C’est-Ă -dire qu’ils ne parlent pas nĂ©cessairement la langue anglaise. Ils ne l’Ă©crivent probablement pas non plus.

Les rĂ©sistances? Elles ne sont jamais systĂ©miques. Elles Ă©mergent davantage de valeurs partagĂ©es. Dans la cas qui nous occupent: aimer la langue, qui veut dire bien la parler et s’efforcer d’en dĂ©couvrir les richesses et les contours.

Interrogative Intonation

“People who fondly imagine themselves the subjects of their ‘own’ choices entirely will, in reality, be the most manipulated subjects, and the most incapable of being influenced by goodness and beauty. This is why, in the affluent Anglo-Saxon West today, there is so much pervasively monotonous ugliness and tawdriness that belies its wealth, as well as why there are so many people adopting (literally) the sing-song accent of self-righteous complacency and vacuous uniformity, with its rising lilt of a feigned questioning at the end of every phrase. This intonation implies that any overassertion is a polite infringement of the freedom of the other, and yet at the same time its merely rhetorical interrogation suggests that the personal preference it conveys is unchallengeable, since it belongs within the total set of formally correct exchange transactions. Pure liberty is pure power – whose other name is evil.”

via Peter J. Leithart.

The present political chaos is connected with the decay of language

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.

Management abuses of language increase “exponentially”

via FT.com:

The word “exponential” has taken a lot of abuse from managers who use it to describe any growth that is more than sluggish. Whereas in maths an exponential graph goes swiftly from almost flat to almost vertical, this pattern is seldom traced by any market I’ve ever come across.

But now the term seems to have slipped free of its mathematical moorings altogether: living “exponentially” involves having “quality time with yourself” and “living in your own truth”.

Speaking from the vantage point of my own truth, I find some things are truer than others. Truest of all are mathematical truths, and it is therefore upsetting to see them being pilfered shamelessly by innumerate managers eager to lend an aura of fact to what is usually a glob of guff.