George Orwell is cool. 1984 and Animal Farm are staples of the high-school English class. If you read them in high-school, reread them. If not, read them. I was directed to an article Orwell wrote which feels like a hopeful obituary for the English language.
If you do any writing, professionally or personally, you must read Politics and the English Language. I wonder how his comments pertain to web-log writing where there is little editing and the tone tends towards speech. However, anyone writing in any medium should benefit from these ideas.
A few highlights from George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language:
“If you simplify your English, […] when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.”
“Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary, promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate, are used to dress up simple statements and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments.”
“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 it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”
“What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way about.”