Insincere writing: a cuttlefish squirting ink

Clear, plain language and credible, authentic writing go hand in hand.  I’ve written before about the importance of using simple language for a credible writing style, allowing your readers to judge your trustworthiness, rather than disguising your purpose with fancy phrases and purple prose.

But I can’t find the words to match George Orwell on insincerity.

Here’s what he says:

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.  When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as if it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

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3 Responses to “Insincere writing: a cuttlefish squirting ink”

  1. On April 5, 2009 at 11:04 pm Matt Hayward responded with... #

    Oooh, that quote is great! I’ve not ever heard it before. Definitely one to store away in my little file of nice quotes.

    And, as an aside and something that caught my attention; this is the first time I’ve seen the term ‘purple prose’ used outside my various roleplaying communities. Often I need to explain what it means.

  2. On March 1, 2010 at 5:57 am David responded with... #

    It would be helpful if you would say where you got that quote from. I would really like to read the complete work it came from as it is a very interesting quote.

  3. On March 1, 2010 at 8:09 am Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    responded with... #

    David, thanks for the question. I think I probably got it from a list of quotes (without specifiying the source). A quick google search threw up this essay on politics and the English language - looks like that’s it, in any event I think the essay would be an interesting follow up to the quote



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