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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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