Writing English as a second language


At The American Scholar an article with tips for writing English as your second language, something I’ve found myself doing a lot lately. The good news is, most of these things are also true for good Dutch writing, so things may be easier for me than for Arabic speakers.

The writer promotes the use of Anglo-Saxon (read: Germanic) words over words from Latin roots. I agree, but I will admit there is some chauvinism at play. In general I reject that language is something to be prescribed; it is inherently changeable, which is why English speakers speak English, and not French or Frisian.

Another tip: use the active form, short words, and write short sentences. Especially the latter I struggle with, I just really need to review everything to really up my game, but I often don’t have that kind of time.

I guess I didn’t really fight it, but long sentences chock-full of foreign (mostly Latin/Greek) words and in particular the active form are the worst thing about having to write scientific materials. A bit more personality, or life as the writer calls it, is good!

The four principles: Clarity, Simplicity, Brevity, and Humanity.