I was re-reading George Orwell’s famous essay, Politics and the English language, on his birth anniversary three days ago. He was born at Motihari in the eastern Indian state of Bihar on June 25, 1903, and died in London on January 21, 1950, a few months after the publication of his novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell is best known for his dystopian novels, Animal Farm, published in August 1945, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, which came out in June 1949. But I like best his essays.
Orwell’s rules for writing
In Politics and the English Language, published in 1946, Orwell wrote:
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never us 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.