Breaking Umberto Eco’s rules of writing

Thursday, 18 April, 2013

In his list of “Rules for Writing (Well)”, the Italian polymath Umberto Eco wittily noted:

“Be concise; try expressing your thoughts with the least possible number of words, avoiding long sentences — or sentences interrupted by incidental phrases that always confuse the casual reader — in order to avoid contributing to the general pollution of information, which is surely (particularly when it is uselessly ripe with unnecessary explanations, or at least non indispensable specifications) one of the tragedies of our media-dominated time.”

In light of that, consider this:

“I believe that a European Union that has the courage to face all of its past, including its darker periods of empire, with honesty, and its future with a commitment to values that are inclusive of all humanity, with a discourse that respects diversity, has a profound contribution to make — not only to its own citizens in Europe but to the global community.”

That sentence is taken from an address to the European Parliament delivered yesterday in Strasbourg by Michael D Higgins, the President of Ireland.

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