Good writing, II: Orwell vs. academia

In the interests of cross-cultural diversity, I thought I should just update my post on George Orwell’s six rules for good writing with the French academic counterpart.

I wouldn’t single out French academia–without any doubt, academic writers in all countries will applaud me–except that I happen to be re-reading Serge Lancel’s impressively researched biography of Hannibal. And, well, I did spend three summers in France, trying to read their books.

Here goes:

George Orwell
French Academia
Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Only use phrases that tenured professors or famous dead scholars have already used
Never use a long word where a short one will do. There are short words?
If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out. Say the same thing over and over again until you hit your wordcount
Never use the passive where you can use the active. Only use the passive; anything else is for amateur lightweights
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Use utilize Greek, Latin or Sanskrit terms. The more banal your thought, the more exotic the word.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. Never break these rules. They are rules.

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