I was out and about recently and espied this notice in the train station:
Here is what I don't understand: how are you supposed to run on the handrail? Especially when it's so narrow
Perhaps I shouldn’t take things so literally…
Words are being used in ways which are completely wrong – in fact, in some cases the meaning is the exact opposite of the way the word is being used, like when the word "choose" means you have no choice at all.
An unfortunate omission?
Have you ever heard of Ogam? Me neither. This article gives provides some information about this ancient writing system.
People should say what they mean. One way of doing so would be to use the correct word. Another way would be to use objective facts rather than subjective value judgements.
Another article in the 'bad writing' series, 7 Features of Bad Writing suggests some common characteristics of poor prose. Any one of these 'sins' would serve as an indicator, especially if they occur more than once or twice.
You cannot assume that every reader will know what words like 'etc' will refer to or included.
This book may be thirty years old, but its advice is still pertinent. If you want to have a blitz or crackdown against, or shake-up of, bad writing (all examples of 'tabloidese'), then this is the book for you.
Why do some writers write badly?
OK, so this is a review of a fiction book -- but I think we can learn a lot about great use of language, convincing research and pace from reading it.