Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Thought Picnic: Losing the battle for the concise

Few views in many words
I would be the first to admit that I could be given to a bout of verbosity in my writings and communications.
However, I do strive hard to cut down my expressions to the bare essentials, in the process; I might use long words, complicated expressions and constructions that might have multiple meanings to convey my views.
I would very much like to eliminate ambiguity though something about English that allows you to offer unspoken assertions with nuanced intentions – rather be poetic than directly nasty which in common parlance is considered politely rude.
In all, it is still necessary to keep to the age-old dictum that I hope guides some of my writings – like a good skirt – it should be long enough to cover the detail and short enough to keep the interest.
An excess of letters and words
Yesterday, the Enough is Enough movement wrote an open letter to the governor of Lagos State and like many opinions expressed in the Sahara Reporters marketplace of vile sensationalism and perverse opinions it failed the good skirt test.
It was too long that every detail was covered but not short enough to keep my interest – for a busy man like the governor of Lagos State who might well have been interested in what they had to say, it would have been easy for him to plead the lack of time to read the tome and he probably would not have delegated the task of searching out the salient points to some underling.
The same can be said of the letter written to repudiate the activities of Charley Boy, it just went on and on, by the end, I wondered what got me into reading the stuff. [I read both letters on Facebook]
Precise, concise, short and simple
Living in the Netherlands, in official letters you notice they quickly want to get to the point in the first few paragraphs before it rambles on.
I like telling stories, but in letters we all need to acquire the fine art of the concise, the finesse of the precise and for urban acceptance sake, the punchy – short and simple can really get far – I do wonder if it is a lesson we Nigerians will ever learn.

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