Pedantic Brit strikes again

Regarding Orwell’s style rules, I’m a bit queasy about royal admonitions against ‘using too many notes’ to make a point. What do I know though? I use notes like I break wind.

Blueface666, I’d like to test my powers of perspicacity at your expense, if I may. Having gotten used to your style and tone and judging from a multitude of other clues, I’ve convinced myself that you must be none other than the Asian correspondent for the National Enquirer. There’s no other explanation for the Blueface666 phenomenon. Should I congratulate myself now on a job well done or just keep working on my powers of observation?

Your humble fellow wordsmith,

Gavin Horriblis

(There, I think I’ve broken all the rules and a few more in one go. Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.)

The practise today in technical writing, or writing for specific subject matter is in controlled english. Controlled english as limited vocabularies and glossaries, simple sentence structures and grammar. They are easier to translate and free from any dialectal or colloquial expressions and idioms.

Controlled english was first adapted in Airlines industry. Since their manual will be translated into as many languages as possible, controlled english serves this purpose to make the source translatable and clearly mapped into the target languages.


There are two things wrong with almost all technical writing: one is style, the other is content.

You could say the same about airline publications. I should know – that’s the only place I’ve been published in Taiwan.

Have those who criticise the extract from Orwell actually read his essay? It is not written in the same style as his fiction.

I’ve read it. And I’m not criticizing in the sense that I think his article is worthless. I’m a fan of Orwell’s (Down and Out in London and Paris is a favorite) but I think too many people have been hoodwink by modernism to think that the only acceptable style of writing is terse and as lucid as a sunny afternoon. Few are aware of the historical forces that brought that style to the fore, and that one can dismiss it as simply being dated. For those who desire to express themselves with more decorations it is refreshing, if not liberating, to know that the spartan style is not the be-all and end-all.

It’s 16 years since I’ve read that Orwell essay, but I remember one of his points being not to use ‘big’ words when simple ones will do. I agree entirely. In fiction it’s excusable, but in newspapers etc I find it really annoying.