Editing a sales brochure recently I came across this line and many more like it:
If required [Company name] can therefore provide an introduction to a solicitor.
This is what George Orwell hated. It is an unnecessarily inflated way to say something simple. Look at all the extraneous parts:
If required – the whole thing is if required. It’s a sales brochure. Just describe your service and let the reader decide if it is required or not.
Therefore is also redundant. There is no need to state explicitly that this sentence follows the previous one in logical argument. If I said: I like plums. Therefore can I have one of yours? – it would make sense. But take ‘therefore’ out and it still makes sense. Human-sounding sense.
Provide an introduction to is one of Orwell’s ‘false limbs’. Keep it simple. Choose the basic verb: introduce.
Orwell deplored this sort of language in politics. It is everywhere in business, inflating sentences to sound grandiose. I call it the faux legal style. It sounds like a contract or piece of legislation, yet is thin in actual meaning. Far from convince, it is more likely to put customers off, by forcing them to read more than they have to for little reward.
What the writer meant to say was:
We can introduce you to a solicitor.
Isn’t that better? Not just for understanding but for tone of voice too?
Writing in the faux legal style
Ten tips to say lots while saying nothing at all:
- Use unnecessary phrases, such as this one.
- Choose a protracted and more lengthy phrase where possible.
- In addition, employ words that therefore reinforce the obvious logical connections, thus.
- Let your verbs exhibit a tendency to complexity.
- Capitalise certain Nouns whenever they appear.
- Sprinkle in some Latin or Greek ad nauseam.
- Talk about yourself in the third person as SmyWord here illustrates.
- Qualify your assertions endlessly, regardless of necessity, whether they need to be qualified or not.
- Omit all feeling that is what some would recognise to be emotional terminology.
- Let the passive be used instead of the active.
In conclusion, therefore, a suitable area for the Reader’s comments upon this subject is afforded space below, should the Reader wish to remark, ruminate or give exposition to his or her thoughts upon the matters raised by the Author in this article.
That is, any comments?