In Defense of Plain English

Barb Wire

I am told by “Abner Doubleday” that the use of modern 21st-century slang in historical and fantasy novels is a matter of debate and he’s right for using it.

So, in novels set in the ancient world before the Flood, and involving spiritual beings as well as mortals, Abner has archangels call each other “you guys” and tease each other with nicknames, while the rebel angels, devils, run around quoting Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

As you can probably guess, I’m warming up to write a review of these dreadful books. And the thing that makes them dreadful is the totally dumbed-down language in which they are written. Abner thinks this gives you access to a wider audience.

But surely plain English can do that just as well, without being incomprehensible to readers twenty years later. I don’t know what kind of theology he expects to teach an audience who can’t fathom anything much more intellectually challenging than a text message. This audience is addicted to movies that are pitched to the 11-year-old demographic, so it expects improbable wisecracking and forced badinage from all characters, all the time.

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These movies will be unwatchable to the next generation. Meanwhile, they are extremely tiresome. It’s like they’re all part of the same interminable movie cooked up for middle school dropouts.

When you write, folks, try to remain within that really not so narrow area between “Dude, ya got a problem with that?” and “I prithee, sweet Prince, beshrew me no more.”

Your readers will thank you for it.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Lee Duigon
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on www.amazon.com.

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