Plain Words

Prefer the plain word to the fancy, the familiar word to the unfamiliar, the Saxon word to the Romance word. Saxon words are those that came from the original English, before the Normans invaded England in 1066. English words from the Saxons are short, hard words, like cold, dust, bite, drink. Most of our ‘swear’ words come from the Saxons. Norman-English words – Romance language Saxonwords – would be like wicket, causeway, castle and many ‘ion’ words like donation or abbreviation.

In general prefer powerful words. But sometimes more elaborate words give a certain poetry to a phrase. Suppose Abraham Lincoln had said, “Eighty-seven years ago our ancestors started a new country.” Instead, he said, “Four Lincolnscore and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation…”

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