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By John Greenland

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Language and Style 43 The process begins at school when your teacher says:“ You have used this word already in your essay. ” The teacher is right to develop your vocabulary. * Familiar concrete words show a clear profile. Superfluous or abstract words act only as camouflage. It would be reasonable to exclude diplomacy from guidelines on abstract English. Abstraction softens the hard edges of the concrete and you are more likely to read: we have reservations about the suitability of your proposed course of action than: we don’t like your idea.

Some are structural and relate to paragraphs and sentences; others relate to your choice of words. The English language derives from more than one source and contains a large vocabulary. You are not always seeking the single correct word but choosing from a number of possibilities. * * In avoiding repetition you may produce elegant variations that range more widely than is helpful for your reader. Writers and readers seek clarity and conciseness in letter writing. Familiar, concrete words delivered in the active voice will give you a good start.

I will contact you again in November to see if you wish to advertise in the spring edition. Long letters containing a number of action points may benefit from a short summary of actions at the end. Avoid clichés at the end of your letter. These usually appear when you have covered the ground and are ready to sign off. Padding at this point pushes the required action further back into the letter, making it less of a prompt for the reader’s attention. * Match the close to the salutation * It can be right to end by inviting someone to contact you for further detail if by doing so you further the aim of the letter.

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