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  [1] Reification      vs Abstraction; 
  [2] E-prime          vs Evaluation; 
  [3] Active Voice     vs Passive Voice; 
  [4] Germanic         vs Latin; 
  [5] Specific Diction vs Concatenated Adverbs; 
Here's a list of the writing ideas (in no particular order) which I've found most helpful. Eveything has its time and place. But as a heuristic, left-side items are better than right-side items. A few explanatory links off the top of my head:

[1] http://lesswrong.com/lw/k7/original_seeing/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Prime

[3] http://www.towson.edu/ows/activepass.htm

[4] https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

[5] "Adverb are weak. They modify modifiers. Instead, use more specific verbs." - my English teacher




What do you mean by Germanic vs. Latin?


http://www.paulgraham.com/writing44.html :

> use simple, germanic words

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm :

> The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details.

pg's essay "Writing, Briefly" mentions it in passing. So I assume that most HNer's are sorta familiar. The idea is that English words of Germanic etymology are usually simple, everyday words. E.g. "event, a lot, boring". English words of Latin etymology are usually flowery, pretentious words. E.g. "phenomenon, cornucopia, quotidian".

Latin words very abstract and hard to read. They often obscure meaning. Sometimes, they don't actually have any meaning. Sometimes, they're used as euphemisms. Germanic words are easier on the eyes and often evoke imagery of tangible objects.

I added links to my original post, because I realized that a single HN comment isn't enough to clearly explain my list.


Germanic words do not originate from French or Latin. They are usually shorter, carrying the same meaning without sounding scientific. So, prefer "eat" over "digest" and "child" over "progeny". I google around (without luck) for a good source, but I think I first heard of this technique in Strunk & White.




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