Friday, August 2, 2013

Lemming Tracks: Writing and POOP

Somewhere between the era of poodle skirts and the advent of DLL files, the Lemming did time in academia.

The Lemming never let getting an education interfere with learning, and that's another topic.

Along the way, one question continued to perplex the Lemming: why, in the name of all that's sane and coherent, couldn't academics write?!!

Actually, learned savants could write: but apparently believed that a writer's job is to obfuscate, producing text that's clear as mud.

Or, as an academic might put it:

"Sesquipedalian exposition primary comprised of prolix utterances tends toward deficiencies of a cognizable nature."

Seriously: would folks read a thousand words of that unless they had to?

Writing, Communication, and All That

The Lemming wasn't particularly good at passing tests. Maintaining a "B" average depended on the Lemming's term papers.

Good research skills and understanding the subject are important for college students. But the Lemming also realized that some poor sap had to read his term paper, plus maybe hundreds of others: all on pretty much the same subject.

Once in a while, there's no way to express an idea except by utilizing polysyllabic utterances in protracted prose. But shorter words and simpler sentences generally do just as well. Humor helps, too, and that's almost another topic.

Being Sententious: Good News; Bad News

"Sententious" means at least two things:
  1. Abounding in or given to pompous or aphoristic moralizing
  2. Concise and full of meaning
    (Princeton's WordNet)
The first definition isn't, in the Lemming's considered opinion, a good way to write. Not if you're trying to communicate. Maybe some folks like that sort of tedious stuff: but not, the Lemming thinks, many.

The second definition is what the KISS principle is about: "Keep It Simple, Stupid." Or, for the more polite folks, KIS.

Avoid POOP

And now, a plea from the Lemming to writers: don't write POOP.

This acronym has been used before, but the Lemming doesn't mean Perl Object Oriented Programming or Pipe Organ Owners and Players.

The Lemming's contribution to the world's cultural and lingustic treasure is: Pretentiously Opulent Overblown Prose.

Wait a minute. That didn't come out right.

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