More tips for writing betterer!
Keep it simple! Use George Orwell’s six elementary rules (“Politics and the English Language”, 1946):
- Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
6 Foreign Expressions You Should Know
1. De Facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means “actual” (if used as an adjective) or “in practice” (if used as an adverb). In legal terms, de facto is commonly used in contrast to de jure, which means “by law.” Something, therefore, can emerge either de facto (by practice) or de jure (by law).
The literal meaning of this French expression is “face to face” (used as an adverb). It is used more widely as a preposition though, meaning “compared with” or “in relation to.”
3. Status quo
This famous Latin expression means “the current or existing state of affairs.” If something changes the status quo, it is changing the way things presently are.
This expression was originated in England by French-speaking aristocrats. Literally it means “bottom of a sack,” but generally it refers to a dead-end street. Cul-de-sac can also be used metaphorically to express an action that leads to nowhere or an impasse.
5. Per se
Per se is a Latin expression that means “by itself” or “intrinsically.”
6. Ad hoc
Ad hoc, borrowed from the Latin, can be used both as an adjective, where it means “formed or created with a specific purpose,” and as an adverb, where it means “for the specific purpose or situation.”
by Daniel Scocco
A tongue-in-cheek guide to writing well.
Let us help this school year.
Now at 50% off the regular price, Grammarly will help you find and correct writing mistakes as well as avoid plagiarism.
Sale ends September 12, 2012 at 12:00am PST. Deal valid for new customers only.
Guest Post: Using Basic Rhetorical Tropes to Get What You Want
When I took my first rhetoric and composition class during freshman year of college, I was bored to tears. It wasn’t until years later, while studying rhetoric in greater depth, did I understand the importance of studying the finer points of persuasive writing. Its importance should not be reduced to developing sound communication skills to improve career prospects. Rather, knowing how to write (or alternatively, speak) persuasively is the key to getting what you want in almost anything in life. Using this line of thinking is an effective way of explaining the importance of rhetoric to your students, who may have difficulty understanding why they should even bother.
Employing persuasive writing techniques always starts with the basic building blocks of rhetoric, which include the four “master tropes”—metaphor, synecdoche, metonymy, and irony. For a more student-oriented approach, let’s look at these master tropes and how they may be employed in a common scenario—convincing your parents to give you more money.
Very few people realize how often metaphor is employed in every day speech and writing. A metaphor is usually defined as a figure of speech in which one tangible object or idea is used to represent something less concrete. In broader terms, a metaphor simply links two objects or ideas that are otherwise dissimilar but are alike in an important way. For example, let’s see how we may begin a note to the folks asking for much needed funds using metaphor:
Dear Mom and Dad,
Hope you are doing well. Thankfully, I’m doing okay. I cannot, however, say the same for the status of my bank account. It is an empty vessel, and I am powerless to refill it.
Here, comparing one’s bank account to an empty container brings home the idea of being broke.
Often, metonymy falls into the domain of metaphor, but there is an important distinction. Metonymy is a trope in which one object stands in for a set of objects or ideas. One common example is using “the Crown” to stand in for the various officials that make up the British monarchy. Continuing with our letter, let’s throw in some metonymy:
The reasons for my depleted bank account are various. I’ve tried to rectify this situation by taking action myself, but instead I thought I’d write you a note. As they say, “the pen is mightier than the sword.”
In this example, “pen” stands in for writing, while “sword” represents action.
This funny-sounding word, often mispronounced, (it’s syn-EK-dah-key, for the record), is essentially the inverse of metonymy. With metonymy, a whole stands for associated parts, while with synecdoche, a part is made to stand for the whole. Going back to our letter:
I’m not writing to beg. Far from it—I am writing to request funds that will be wisely invested in various educational ventures, the returns of which you will see once your child finishes school and benefits from such an enriching intellectual experience. After all, “man does not live on bread alone.”
In this example, we have two instances of synecdoche. “Man” represents, in a larger sense, all of mankind. “Bread”, although only part of what makes up food in general, stands for any sort of nutritional sustenance.
By far the most complex of rhetorical tropes, irony can mean several different things, and there is still an ongoing debate about what counts as ironic. The most basic definition of verbal irony can be summed up as this—the use of a word or phrase that is intended to mean its opposite, often to humorous effect. In terms of our letter, an ironic statement was earlier expressed: “I am not writing to beg.” Although clothed in language that “sounds” logical, this is precisely what the student is doing—begging. This discord between the denial of begging and the reality thus creates a humorous effect that the parents may find endearing.
Of course, these are just a few of the basic tropes used in rhetoric, and this is only one instance, if a little superficial, in which a writer may use them. Framing tropes in this sense, however, gives students insight into what constitutes good writing. Effective writing isn’t only about being rational. It’s about giving writing some style, by using these tropes, to interest and entertain readers. In the process, you may just get what you want after all.
This is a guest post by Nadia Jones who blogs at online college about education, college, student, teacher, money saving, movie related topics. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overcoming Procrastination: Planning and Organization (Part I of II)
Are you procrastinating? Is there an essay or a blog post you just can’t seem to get done? We could suggest:
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.”
Though, it won’t likely help. Why not? Professionals, students, educators, writers, and so on have all heard this advice, and we all feel compelled to follow it, but—let’s be frank— as with anything, it’s not so simple. We don’t procrastinate for the sake of procrastination or laziness. There are emotional and psychological barriers that manifest behaviorally as “procrastination,” and it’s important to understand these before trying to overcome procrastination.
It may be useful for you to think for a few minutes about why you are postponing a given task. Often times, the cause of your procrastination differs according to the task. What are the top reasons for procrastination? Generally, they are:
- lack of motivation
When I have to write, for example, procrastination normally comes from confusion or overwhelm. When I have to do the dishes, it comes from boredom. It’s important to understand the enemy before it can be defeated. Isolate the root(s) of your procrastination.
To start, we’ll address methods of dealing with overwhelm and confusion. In later posts, we’ll deal with boredom, lack of motivation, and distraction.
Coping with overwhelm and confusion
1. Make written to-do lists.
To-do lists are a tried and true way of getting your bearings and avoiding overwhelm. They also help you organize your thoughts and can avoid confusion. It’s ideal to make a new list at the end of each day to prepare for the next day. Keep in mind, however, this tip won’t help much if you over-plan or set actionable tasks that cannot be completed in less than a half an hour. If a task takes longer than 30 minutes, break it up into smaller tasks. Make lists, but make them of simple, bite-sized tasks.
2. Start each list (and day) with one important task.
Overwhelm often comes from not being sure how to manage all the steps of a larger task. The antidote? Proactivity. Accomplishing something toward your goal is a great way to empower yourself to take on the next step in the task or to free up your energies for other tasks throughout the day. For this reason, it is helpful to choose one task or group of tasks each day that you should complete in order to feel productive. Do these tasks first.
3. Seek information and support.
When we are overwhelmed or confused by how to move forward with a task, it can come from feeling inadequately prepared for taking on the task. If this is true for you, work in some time (and tasks on your list) for seeking guidance. For example, if you are confused about an essay or writing task for school, a good place to seek guidance is from your professor, your advisor, or from a writing center tutor.
While it does take time to plan and organize for productivity, it will pay for itself over the life of your project or goal. These steps can prevent the crippling effects of anxiety and stress that accompany overwhelm and confusion. The peace of mind you’ll experience will free up your mental energy for thinking, focus, and creativity. The best of all reasons to deal with your procrastination is, of course, that you may even begin to enjoy your work!
How do you cope with confusion and overwhelm?
Part II of this series is scheduled for Thursday, 30 August 2012.