On eloquence

Wot I wrote:
“Our national energy security is at growing risk from our total dependence on overseas supplies of oil. Our economy is affected by the rising price of oil and its impact on our current account deficit. The continued use of fossil fuels is accelerating climate change, which will introduce a new layer of costs.”

What someone else wrote:
“Oil, …, its volatile price erodes prosperity; its vulnerabilities undermine security; its emissions destabilize climate.”

And that’s so much better than mine that I feel like never trying to write again.

This is an increasing concern for me, witness the first Glorious George‘s concern for Saxon language and yesturday’s example of translating a rap into a far-removed different dialect, maintaining both sense and scan. That’s just showing off but I couldn’t do it if I tried.

Its not that I’m bad, I can take agricultural productivity, the epitomy of a worthy but dull topic, and turn out an interesting editorial. But I’m not as good as I want to be at writing common English. I can write perfectly acceptable scientific English, I’ve been trained to, with all its latin and greek roots to provide an aura of unquestionable authority. That leads nicely on to writing appropriately complicated Management Drivel, but that merely provides access to The Club, rather than being useful.

I think I need to remember how to speak very plainly, before all that education intruded. My original dialect comes from a mix of Mercia and Wessex, I grew up north of the river, went to school south of it. Reading plenty of older English would help. How old?

Fifteenth Century, no prob:
“And one of theym named Sheffelde a mercer cam in to an hows and axed for mete and specyally he axyed after eggys. And the good wyf answered that she coude spake no frenshe. And the marchaunt was angry, for he also coude speke no frenshe, but wold haue hadde egges and she vnder-stode hym not. And thenne at laste a nother sayd that he wolder haue eyren. Then the good wyf sayd that she vnderstod hym wel. Loo what sholde a man in thyse dayes now wryte, egges or eyren. Certaynly it is harde to playse euery man by cause of dvuersite and chaunge of langage.”

Fourteenth Century, I’m tenuous:
“Siþen þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye,
Þe borgh brittened and brent to brondez and askez,
Þe tulk þat þe trammes of treasoun þer wroght
Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erthe:”

Older than that, I’m stuffed.

So maybe I’ve found something to learn after this economics is done. Oh, and getting back to being fit, having some fun building the house, then starting on the List.

5 thoughts on “On eloquence”

  1. When emotionally and intellectually close to our subject matter, it’s often hard as all hell, in my experience, to write concisely and eloquently about it. Contrary to popular belief. Those with a touch more distance can often do it better. But that’s nothing to do with your writing, it’s just place and space issue. Relax.

    1. Over the last three years of actually having to write, rather than just program, I’ve got noticably better. But, dammit, I don’t want to be better. I want to be astoundling awesome at everything.

      Strangely enough, I also want to be realistic, which means that just convincing myself how wonderfull I am isn’t a shortcut solution.

      And that’s a real pain in the arse.

  2. 14th C (No translatey-programme cheats)

    Something the seige and the assault which seized Troy
    The something brightened and bent to someone and asked
    The talk that the something of treason there wrought
    Was tried for his treachery, the truest on earth.”

    Or something…

    1. Re: 14th C (No translatey-programme cheats)

      Yeah, something like that.

      And I did find myself yesturday using the phrase “get all Grendel on his arse”. Cue immense brain confusion.

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