Orwellian gobbledygook

Too often we try to hide ourselves behind big words that don’t mean much. It is unfortunate that we find it very hard to follow the simple advice: Say it as you see it.

Andreas Kluth of the Economist calls all this Orwellian gobbledygook because it was George Orwell who pointed out in his famous essay Politics and the English language that, “The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness”.

Kluth believes the two reasons we do this are:

1. Laziness: Speaking or writing clearly takes enormous effort.

2. Fear or cowardice: If you write clearly you use strong words which can offend somebody, and that is something you will not want to do.

The two things about any subject

Stranger in the bar said, “For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

Difficult as it may be to accept, it might be true. Whether it is true or not doesn’t matter so much because I think the exercise of boiling down a subject to two sentences is tremendously valuable.

Glen Whitman, an economist who has compiled a list of two things ever since he met the stranger in the bar, says, “The “two-ness” is crucial. Three things wouldn’t demand such disciplined thinking; one thing wouldn’t give a truthful picture.”

The list hasn’t been updated for quite sometime.