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Great ➝ Handy:
Tips for Plainer English

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Great ➝ Handy

Precision helps communcation, and communication helps contact. Contrary to it, there are PR agencies and other "ballyhooers" that exaggerate how good their wares are. What commercials call "great", is perhaps 'handy' or 'neat'. Just that. If that is so, why not say it? It is less awkward.

Change of words denotes changes in thought patterns, and improved thought patterns may engender healthier outlooks, responses, and deeds to come. To replace swollen or overdone expressions so as to make them more precise and matter-of-fact, could help life-handling and handiness. Such a "deal" is aligned to Plain English and its praiseworthy counsels on how to simplify expressions against stilted, circumlocuted and bombastic officialese. Have a look. [Peg]

The words you put on things and happenings can influence your handling, or cause inflation of your worth as a careful informer.

Great ➝ Neat ➝ Handy

Roger Barrass and others have written example lists of words and phrases to omit and shun, what words and phrases to simplify because they work better. Simple clarity is a praiseworthy thing to go for. Such "handy thought" is had by being accurate, carefully nuanced, to the point, not overdoing expressivity, and preferably keeping it simple. That could work all right. [cf. Scw].

Instead of "immediately" you can say "at once". Instead of "relatively" you can try "quite", and thereby improve your language, hopefully.

  • Prefer crisp and short terms and expressions to the long and difficult ones.
  • Prefer terse euphony ("pleasing words and sentence constructions", ie, sweet melodiousness, harmony) also. Handbooks on writing in scientific manner may not include that one, but pleasing language helps in a wide perspective as compared to harsh, superfluous, and unnecessary long-winded expressions when there is no need for them.

From great to handy

Above adjustments of words and phrases are shifts of meaning. To gear down from saying 'great' to 'handy', marks a change of attitude, a saner attitude.

Great ➝ Neat ➝ Handy.

Consider the chain above. If the great thing is unwieldy, it should give way to something neat, at least. That would not be deplorable. And to go on from neat to handy could mark something humans can use - preferably easily. Sometimes it is correct to get to that.

If what is called great is not handy, if we cannot make good use of it to improve on living, it may serve wrong ends at bottom. Not everything that is marketed as progress means progress for humans and human-scaled enterprises.

Novelties that are merely great-looking can incapacitate mankind in the long haul. Neat and handy novelties are different, and could be worth going for.

There are two trains of thought above:

  • From circumlocution (long-windedness, using an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea) to plain language. A thesaurus can come in handy in such cases.
  • From grandiloquence (inflated or swollen language, talking big, clumsily so) to Sachlichkeit (being matter-of-fact and nuanced).

Both improvements are thought to be related to attitudes and mentalities. Every little helps, it is said.

From great to handy 
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From great to handy - END MATTER

From great to handy, LITERATURE  

Ope: Cutts, Martin. Oxford Guide to Plain English. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Scw: Barrass, Robert. Scientists Must Write: A Guide to Better Writing for Scientists, Engineers and Students. 2nd ed. London: Routledge, 2002.

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