Friday, March 1, 2013

George Orwell on Writing Style

A George Orwell classic is his essay, “Politics and the English Language.” In it, he sums up all that good writing and the plain English movement champion.  Because it is short, your students may find it more accessible than the many fine books on the subject.

Here are Orwell’s six 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 outright barbarous.

You can find the essay here. And you can find Professor Judith Fischer’s article on Orwell’s essay here.


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