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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 16, 2008 / 13 Tamuz 5768

Cut The Verbal Fat

By Richard Lederer

Bill O'Reilly
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In a letter to a 12-year-old boy, Mark Twain wrote, "I notice you use plain, simple language, short words, and brief sentences. That is the way to write English — it is the modern way and the best way. Stick to it; don't let fluff and flowers and verbosity creep in."


Alas, with most of us, as we grow older, fluff and flowers and verbosity do creep in. Writing today often has too much fat, too little muscle — bulk without strength. Much of what we read these days ranges from slightly flabby to grossly obese. As children, we wrote sentences like "See Dick run." As adults, we are more likely to write, "It is imperative that we assiduously observe Richard as he traverses the terrain at an accelerated rate of speed." We gain girth and lose mirth — and so does our prose.


What happens to people's writing in the years between childhood and maturity?


For one thing, their reasons for writing change. The child writes for the best of reasons — to tell somebody something that is worth telling. Little Janie Jones wants her friends to know about her dog, Spot. Her only concern is to share her joy that "Spot is the bestest dog in the whole wide world."


Mr. Jones, Janie's dad, also has something worthwhile to write about — his company's new marketing plan, which may or may not be the "bestest" marketing plan in the industry. But his real reason for writing a long memo about the plan is that he wants to be perceived as having had "input" into the plan's development. As he writes, he worries about the impression his writing might make on his colleagues, especially his boss. He chooses his words carefully — the more and the longer, the better. Even if his instinct tells him to write simply, he's afraid to, lest his memo not be taken seriously.


Janie has no such fear. While she uses a simple, clear, unaffected secondgrade vocabulary, her dad draws on marketing terms he learned while earning his MBA. Relying heavily on the jargon of his business, he throws in a couple of viable alternatives, a new set of parameters, and a plan for prioritization that should be implemented at this point in time — the bureaucrat's 17-letter phrase for now. When it's done, he has produced a bloated, tedious, pompous piece of writing full of sound and fury signifying very little.


Far from contributing to the reader's enlightenment, wordiness enshrouds meaning in a fog of confusion. "Writing improves in direct ratio to the things we can keep out of it that shouldn't be there," advises writing guru William Zinsser. Cutting the fat is probably the quickest and surest way to improve. No matter how solid is your grasp of grammar, punctuation, spelling, and other fundamentals, you cannot write well unless you train yourself to write with fewer words.

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JWR contributor Richard Lederer is a language maven. More than a million of his books, which have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild alternate selections, are in print. His latest work is Presidential Trivia: The Feats, Fates, Families, Foibles, and Firsts of Our American Presidents


© 2008, Richard Lederer

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