Re: Hocus Pocus

Subject: Re: Hocus Pocus
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 09:11:53 -0500

Rick Kirkham wrote:
> Sorry to be so pedantic, but this is a pet peeve of mine. Whoever thought up
> the terms "active voice" and "passive voice" should be shot! These terms
> seduce people into thinking that the distinction is a hazy semantic one and
> that it might be a matter of opinion whether a sentence is active or
> passive.

I find the terms regrettable, but for a different reason. What
bothers me is that the term "active" encourages people to prefer
the active voice under all circumstances.

It's worth remembering that the writers like George Orwell
championed the active voice over the passive as a way of
reducing or avoiding pompous, empty language. In practice,
Orwell himself used the passive when it suited his purpose.

Instead of favoring the active voice in all circumstances, I
suggest that writers think about what they want to emphasize. If
the subject of the sentence is more important, use the active.
However, if the action is more important, consider using the

Bruce Byfield, Outlaw Communications
bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com | 604.421.7189

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