Mark Twain on plain language


In my Writing with Influence workshop yesterday Deb Tetteh-Wayoe introduced me to a wonderful quote that her grandfather would recite to convince her to keep her communication clear and simple.

Although Twain is satirizing verbal communication I believe that it now applies more to our tendency to overcomplicate business writing.

In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable, philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your conversational communications possess a clarified conciseness, a compact comprehensibleness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency.
— Mark Twain (also attributed to Grenville Kleiser)