Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Fun With English

I'm the sort of nerd who gets a kick out of certain words and phrases, especially when they convey an unintentional joke.

Take this phrase:
It was an unexpected surprise when a pair of baby twins was born at 12 midnight.
Do you see the joke?

Today's browsing was particularly fruitful in the usage department. Did I ever tell you that one of my favorite books ever is the Strunk and White's The Elements of Style (Thanks Noel for talking about that in class once.) I was particularly distressed when I moved to my current city, and I discovered it was missing from my library. I am excited because it is required reading for one of my classes in the fall. Well, in my browsing today I stumbled on this essay by George Orwell, which is both on the same lines as Strunk and White and applicable to today's politics. Here are his rules for writing:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I'm a big fan of clear, concise writing, so I like these rules. And the essay is pretty good too.

Another site I discovered with the Fun with Words site. I'll be checking that one out in a bit more detail later.

And finally, courtesy of my pal Secret Knitter, comes a link to an NPR story about a grammar vandal. A grammar vandal? I want to be a grammar vandal! I'll be listening to that here shortly, so hopefully it's good.

Well, enjoy the Fun With English Day!

1 comment:

the secret knitter said...

Nice links.

My favorite part of the essay is, "(The English language) becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." Let the war against IM-speak begin. ;)

The joke is the three redundancies, right?