Orwell's Politics and the English Language

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active vs. passive

From: Politics and the English Language (1948) by George Orwell.

In context Orwell vs. modernism: 1984, Newspeak in the context of BASIC English and Otto Neurath's universal sign system (ISOTYPE)

Politics and the English Language is an old text, but consider Orwell's tips as a writing machine

Orwell writes:

" 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?" (p.3)

Orwell later proposes the following rules:

"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 barbarous." (p.5)