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The Power of Simple Words, Animated

Getting from “no coordinates exist like one’s domicile” to “there’s no place like home.”

“Use the right word, not its second cousin,” Mark Twain admonished. “Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs,” David Ogilvy advised.

Last week, my friends at TED launched TED-Ed — a wonderful new series of short animated videos for high school students and lifelong learners, using visual storytelling to deliver compelling messages in equally compelling ways. To kick off, this lovely video by copywriter Terin Izil, animated by the one and only Sunni Brown (remember her?), makes an appropriately succinct case for using simple words and brevity in writing, in just two minutes.

Variety may be the spice of life, but brevity is its bread and butter. So when it comes to $10 words, save your money and buy a Scrabble board.”

Then again, even E.B. White — the quintessential champion of brevity — felt compelled to play devil’s advocate against brevity for brevity’s sake:

Writing is not an exercise in excision, it’s a journey into sound. How about ‘tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow’? One tomorrow would suffice, but it’s the other two that have made the thing immortal.”

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Published March 20, 2012




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