Those long Latin usages have so infected everyday language in America that you might well think, “If that’s how people write who are running the country, that’s how I’m supposed to write.” It’s not. Let me read you two typical letters I recently received in the mail. (I keep letters like this and save them in a folder that I call “Bullshit File.”)
The first one is from the president of a private club in New York. It says, “Dear member: The board of governors has spent the past year considering proactive efforts that will continue to profession alize the club and to introduce efficiencies that we will be implementing through out 2009.” That means they’re going to try to make the club run better
So if those are the bad nouns, what are the good nouns? The good nouns are the thousands of short, simple, infinitely old Anglo-Saxon nouns that express the fundamentalsof everyday life: house, home, child, chair, bread, milk, sea, sky, earth, field, grass, road … words that are in our bones, words that resonatewith the oldest truths. Don’t try to find a noun that you think sounds more impressive or “literary.” Short Anglo-Saxon nouns are your second-best tools as a journalist writing in English.
What are your best tools? Your best tools are short, plain Anglo-Saxon verbs. I mean active verbs, not passive verbs. If you could write an article using only active verbs, your article would automatically have clarity and warmth and vigor.
One of my favorite writers is Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau’s writing moves with simple strength because he uses one active verb after another to push his meaning along. Here’s a famous sentence from him:
Henry David Thoreau是我最喜欢的作家之一。Thoreau的文笔简洁而遒劲，因为他总是使用主动态来传情达意。下面是他写的一个很有名的句子：
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of nature, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
A decision was made to go to the woods because of a desire for a deliberate existence and for exposureto only the essential facts of life, and for possible instruction in its educational elements, and because of a concern that at the time of my death the absence of a meaningful prior experience would be apprehended.