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Towards more picturesque speech

George Orwell on plain English | SEC guidance on plain English Plain English Anatomy Noun | Verb | Adjective | Adverb | Preposition | Conjunction | Latin | Germany | Flannel | Legal triplicate | Nominalisation | Murder your darlings

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Nominalisation — itself, a nominalisation of the verb to “nominalise”[1] — is the act, as adored by solicitors as it is loathed by anyone who cares for the English language, of gutting a precise verb, by converting it into a noun and jamming a general verb in front of it.

Or should I say:

Nominalisation is the act, which induces adoration in solicitors as much as it effects a sensation of loathing in anyone having a fondness for the English language, of ensuring the evisceration of a precise verb by effecting its conversion into a noun (or adjective) and ensuring the jammery of a general verb in front of it.

Dead give aways:


Why sayhave visibility ofwhen you mean “see”?
Why say “issue a notification to” when you mean “tell”?
Why say “have a discussion about” when you mean “discuss”?
Why say “we are supportive of” when you mean “we support”?
Why say “have the appearance of being” when you mean “seem”?

Effecting the worst kind of nominalisation

The worst kind of nominalisation goes a step further: not only must the poor verb dress up as a noun; an equally unsuspecting noun must behave like a verb. “Effect” is this kind of nominalisation:

Why say “effect the conversion of shares” when you mean “convert the shares”?

See also


  1. Goedel would be pleased.