I have decided to dwell more on keeping short our phrases or expressions because of the dangers of being misunderstood. The purists and masters of the language believe that for effective and flawless communication between the sender and receiver, one should sound simple and straightforward devoid of complex statements that could confuse the listening or reading publics. And so, as I stated earlier, piling up adjectives to express one’s self is like an overkill that bores the average reader and make little or no sense. We are in a society that is in a hurry, especially for the working class and the ever busy executive. He or she prefers short and simple expression that tells the story at a glance. As I noted before now, the smart editor or news manager waste no time in telling the story with the banner or screaming headline flavoured with multiplicity of kickers and riders, especially so for the lead or cover report to entice and hold the reader’s attention.
Now, I invite you to sample these phrases and see how they can be shortened for precision and easy comprehension. After all, a good writer is expected not only to pass information and educate the public but also to entertain. One can only achieve this purpose through skillful and creative writing. Simplicity is a virtue so long as the language is concerned. Grandiloquence or flowery language is simply an anathema. There goes one, ‘anathema.’ How many of us would like to go for the dictionary and look up the word ‘anathema’ when we have other issues waiting to be attended to? This could only happen within the academic environment may be and not for the average struggling man in the street of Lagos in search of his daily bread. Instead of speaking ‘anathema,’ simply interpret it for the kindergarten to understand. ‘Anathema,’ according to the Oxford dictionary of current English, is something you hate.
Back to our lesson of the week, this is the way some of us write or speak in the opinion of the language experts, because we want to impress ourselves rather than express our thoughts more succinctly to be understood and avoid unnecessary ambiguity; ‘domicile,’ for home or residence, ‘tuition fee,’ for ‘tuition.’ ‘Twelve noon,’ ‘went on to say,’ ‘notwithstanding the fact,’ ‘make a study of,’ ‘get in touch with,’ ‘currently going on,’ ‘over and above,’ ‘far off in the distance,’ ‘general public,’ apportion blame,’ ‘few in number,’ ‘doctorate degree,’ ‘depreciate in value,’ ’10 acres of land,’ ‘total extinction,’ ‘may not be unconnected,’ ‘scorched by heat,’ ‘is to be,’ and more which we shall deal with in due course. We can cut them short and sound better, concise and straight to the point we want to make or the idea we intend to pass across.
For instance, we can shorten these rather long winding expressions sometimes with just one, two or three-syllable words. ‘Twelve noon,’ write or speak ‘noon, mid-day,’ ‘went on to say,’ substitute with ‘said’ and sound perfect and dignifying. Again, the phrase, ‘notwithstanding the fact,’ one can simply write or speak, ‘although,’ ‘make study of,’ is overkill for ‘study.’ Also watch out for these redundancies, ‘get in touch with,’ ‘currently going on,’ ‘over and above,’ ‘far off in the distance,’ ‘general public,’ rather prefers the shorter versions, ‘contact, reach, visit,’ ‘going on, happening,’ ‘over,’ ‘far away, distant,’ ‘public, masses.’ Still on precision or economy of word, ‘apportion blame,’ ‘few in number,’ doctorate degree,’ ‘depreciate in value,’ ’10 acres of land,’ ‘total extinction,’ ‘may not be unconnected,’ scorched by heat,’ ‘is to be.’ One can write it short and simple. The golden rule is, don’t impress but instead express yourself to engender effective communication. ‘Apportion blame,’ statement is considered long and labourious. Simply write, ‘blame,’ ‘few in number,’ go for ‘few, limited,’ ‘doctorate degree,’ prefers ‘doctorate,’ ‘depreciate in value,’ choose ‘depreciate,’ ’10 acres of land,’ contract it to ’10 acres or in hectares,’ preferably. The same treatment we give to ‘total extinction,’ write ‘extinction, dead,’ ‘may not be unconnected,’ write ‘related,’ ‘scorched by heat,’ go for ‘scorched,’ ‘is to be,’ simplify it to, ‘will.’