Date: Fri, 5 Jan 96 02:19:50 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Writing Exercise
Every few years I rediscover Strunk and White's delightful "Elements of
Style" and once again find persuasive support for my irritation at supermarket
signs that limit express lines to "10 items or less" and middle managers who
insist on "gifting their secretaries with a momento that can also be utilized
as a ..."
This time I read the following reminder on style (from pp 76-77):
14. Avoid fancy words
Avoid the elaborate, the pretentious, the coy, and the cute. Do
not be tempted by a twenty-dollar word when there is a ten-center
handy, ready and able. Anglo-Saxon is a livelier tongue than Latin,
so use Anglo-Saxon words. In this, as in so many matters prtaining to
style, one's ear must be one's guide: ... Never call a stomach a
tummy without good reason. ...
Here are a few other phrases that could probably be rewritten using more
lively and direct word choices:
1. Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific.
2. Members of an avian species of identical plumage congregate.
3. You should precede saltation with surveillance.
4. lt is fruitless to become lacrimose over precipitately departed lacteal
5. Freedom from incrustations of grime is contiguous to rectitude.
6. The stylus, quill, or ballpoint is a more potent weapon than the general
class of tools that includes the claymore.
7. It is fruitless to attempt to indoctrinate a superannuated canine with
8. The temperature of the aqueous content of an unremittingly ogled saucepan
does not reach 212 degrees F.
9. All articles that coruscate with resplendence are not auric.
10. If gaseous products made visible by the presence of small particles of
carbon exist, conflagration also exists.
11. A surfeit of individuals with expertise in culinary techniques vitiate
the potable concoction produced by steeping certain comestibles.
12. Male cadavers are incapable of yielding anecdotal testimony.
13. Individuals who inhabit vitreous edifices would be well advised to
refrain from catapulting petrous projectiles.
14. Exclusive dedication to necessitous chores without interludes of
hedonistic diversion renders John a hebetudinous young male.
lS. Neophyte's serendipitous fortune.
16. A revolving lithic conglomerate does not accumulate congeries of
miniscule, verdant, bryophytic plants.
17. Whereas missiles of ligneous or petrous materials have the potential of
fracturing my osseous structures, appellations will remain eternally
innocuous where I am concerned.
18. Persons of imbecilic mentality eagerly frequent environs that cherubic
entities only approach with treepidation.
19. Desist from enumerating your fowl prior to their emergence from the
prenatal ovoid structure.
20. Prepubescent male humans will conduct themselves in a manner reminiscent
of prepubescent male humans.
- Peter Langston
© 1996 Peter Langston