Taking Back the English Language

ListenI listened to KERA’s Krys Boyd interview author Steven Pinker about one of my favorite topics: plain English. Mr. Pinker authored The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. He claims that education often interferes with a person’s clarity. He refers to this wordy English dialect as academese, which is similar to corporate hack boilerplate.

Do you speak English?I agree. Most academic papers are terribly written, as is the text in many corporate websites.

Both dialects employ the passive voice and zombie nouns: nouns created from verbs. For example, instead of appearing, there is an appearance. Instead of cancelling, there is a cancellation.

Mr. Pinker closes with the “prime directive” of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style:

Omit needless words.