Regular readers of Mere Inkling are accustomed to posts that require a bit of thinking.* This one will be different.
I opted for a simpler topic, wedged as this post will be, between two more thought-provoking subjects. Avoiding verbosity is a worthwhile goal. Admittedly, it’s harder for some of us to reach, than for others who are innately succinct.
I will simply say, to promote clear communication it is necessary to (1) strip away all extraneous words, and (2) ensure that we know what the words we use mean to our hearers or readers. (This is especially true when “preaching.”)
In terms of the meanings of words, C.S. Lewis describes the value of commonly shared or “learned” language. If a word, say “baptism,” or even something simpler, such as “tree,” meant the same thing to all—communication could be much more concise.
In the very process of eliminating from your matter all that is technical, learned, or allusive, you will discover, perhaps for the first time, the true value of learned language: namely, brevity (“Before We can Communicate”).
[Such learned language] can say in ten words what popular [common] speech can hardly get into a hundred. Your popularisation of the passage set will have to be very much longer than the original.” Alas, because we lack that united vocabulary, this we must just put up with.”
Still, Lewis would argue: let’s please keep the unnecessary extraneous explanation to a bare minimum. (It would be an easy task to whittle that sentence down, wouldn’t it? Let’s try.)
C.S. Lewis says using the fewest necessary words is (usually) best.
[If you would like to read a slightly more developed essay on this subject,
search no farther than “Brevity & Clear Communication,” which was published in 2017.]
* I was tempted to write “a bit of cognitive interaction,” but realized I’d be undermining my purpose for this simple post in my very first sentence!