Today's style tip appeared anonymously in dozens of late-19th-century and early-20th-century periodicals, ranging from Cornhill Magazine and the Practical Druggist to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers Monthly Journal. Decide for yourself whether the advice is still appropriate.
In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, or articulating your superficial sentimentalities, and amicable, philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity.
Let your conversational communications possess a clarified conciseness, a compacted comprehensiveness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency.
Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectation.
Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiations have intelligibility and veracious vivacity, without rhodomontade or thrasonical bombast.
Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolixity, psittaceous vacuity, ventriloquial verbosity, and vaniloquent vapidity.
Shun double entendres, prurient jocosity, and pestiferous profanity, obscurant or apparent.
In other words, talk plainly, briefly, naturally, sensibly, truthfully, purely. Keep from "slang"; don't put on airs; say what you mean; mean what you say; and don't use big words!
For more stylistic advice, see the following essays from our collection of Readings on Rhetoric and Prose Style:
- "Of Simplicity and Refinement in Writing" by David Hume
Philosopher and historian David Hume considers the merits and deficiencies of the elaborate Asiatic style of writing in contrast to the plainer Attic style.
- "Of Eloquence" by Oliver Goldsmith
In this essay on rhetoric, Goldsmith challenges the conventional wisdom that effective oratory depends on complex sentence structures and the sophisticated use of figurative language.
- "On Conciseness of Style in Writing and Conversation" by Vicesimus Knox
British essayist Vicesimus Knox argues that one effect of concise writing lies in "the pleasure which a reader . . . takes in having something left for his own sagacity to discover."