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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

172                The Loom of Language
gous circumlocution of which a type specimen is the untrue statement,
'tis love that make1; the world go round
There arc other common literary habits of long-wmdedness One is
the use oi conjunctional and prepositional phrases when a single link-
word or directive would suflicc The Tune* Litnuty Supplement and
Butish Civil Seivice Reports specialize m the question a? to whether,
when whether by itself suffices in the same context Dunng the time that
generally means the same as while At an earlier date is an unneces-
sarily roundabout way ol saying previously With reference to is over-
worked in situations where about, or concerningy would do as wella and
both the latter, though no shorter than as to, are more explicit The
reader who has now grasped the importance ol using particles explicitly
will be on the look-out for these Another trick which makes writing
congested is indiscriminate use of the dehmte article t)ie in situations
where it is not really necessary For instance, we can strike out four
inessential articles of the sentence If the war goes on, the social services
will be cut., the income tax will rise, and the prices of commodities will
soar
Anyone who wishes to cultivate an agreeable and competent style
can' practise how to recognize signposts of prolixity by rewriting
passages from standard authors or editorial articles m newspapers
without recourse to redundant particles,, passive expressions, prepo-
sitional and conjunctival phrases, or to unnecessary aitides. Another
type of exercise which helps to develop the habit of wlf-editot ship is to
rewrite in simple sentences passages from books by authors able to
manipulate long and complex ones with more or less effect. Sentences
with more than one subordinate clause are nearly always difficult to
follow, and complex sentences in general arc best kept to round off a
fusillade of simple statements, when the habit of writing in simple
sentences has been well formed If we have to use complex sentences,
the subordinate clause should generally come first One of the tasks of
self-editing is to sec that it does so The worst type of involved sen-
tence is the one with a clause starting with that, who> or wfn^
telescoped into another beginning m the same way. That> w/to9 and
which {like participles, passive verbs, the and if) arc therefore danger-
signals in a first draft. One simple trick which helps in cutting up long
and complex sentences is the use of certain adverbial particles or
expressions to maintain continuity of meaning. Meanwhile^ first, then*
after thaty or afterward^ in spite of thisy m this way, thus* for that reason^
consequently*, so, therefore, are therefore useful items of a word-hst
We can reinforce the habit of self-editorship by practising the use of
such words in dissection of sentences made up to illustrate each of the