Wednesday, July 06, 2011

How To Craft The Perfect Sentence, Part 28

by CWK

Offenders against clarity.

I've talked a lot about clarity on this blog. Let's look at it from another perspective. Here are three offenders against clarity. That is, three common obstacles to clarity.

1) Words our audience doesn’t understand.

Make sure you speak to your audience’s educational level. If you have a choice between a big, impressive word, or a small, clear word, choose the small clear word every time. If you must use big words make sure to explain their meaning.

2) Concepts our audience doesn’t understand.

 Sure, you understand supralapsarianism, and Newtonian physics, and rationalistic humanism, and postmodernism, and the enlightenment, and, etc. But does your audience. If they don’t, and you throw these concepts around loosely, you will lose them.

3) Muddled ideas.

Here the problem is you don’t grasp your own subject. You don’t see how your ideas fit together. You don’t know enough about them to explain them. If you are confused, you audience will soon join you.

4) Mixed Motives.

Here the problem is a concealed agenda. You are unclear in your speech because you are unclear in your motives. 

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” – George Orwell, "Politics and the English Language." 

No comments:

Post a Comment