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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The war on clichés - raising awareness for bloggers

pen(The "raising awareness" bit was a joke.) John Rentoul in the Independent has a list of clichés that are best avoided ("banned" in his article.) I admit to having used one or two of them and will try to do better. Sometimes these phrases might be used in jest such as "a raft of measures" which I think is a funny way to describe a list of things that people are intending to do to pretend that they are solving a problem.

Is it better to read blogs or books? This is a futile discussion since people can read and write both. Many bloggers become better writers simply because they write so much: I am sure that my own writing has improved over the past few years. Bloggers are also instantly punished in their comment boxes for mistakes in spelling and grammar (there are not so many pedants in punctuation.)

If you write regularly, it is worth taking the time occasionally to consult some guides to good, clear English. The list of brief rules set out by George Orwell is still valuable:
  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
So now let us put our noses to the grindstone, our shoulders to the wheel, develop a more vibrant community that is fit for purpose, create a sense of going forward, so that our quantum leap is leveraged exponentially on a daily basis that a step change be made possible for real people in the real world, forward planning be rolled out and the can be kicked down the road. And yet, and yet ...

Photo credit: gwilmore
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