Why were people so bad at writing back in the day?

Ray C
Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 04:07 pm
The main function of a language is to communicate information. It appears that most any prose (literary or otherwise) written before say 1890 (I do like The Picture of Dorian Gray) seems cockeyed and overly complex.

Forty words are used to communicate something that could be expressed in about a dozen words.

Plus, the “pre-1890” writing seems to go out of its way to be verbose.

Why is this so?

Is it some sort of aristocratic pretension deal, in which writing could be taken seriously only if it sounded elaborate?
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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 727 • Replies: 3
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Reply Tue 29 Mar, 2016 06:19 pm
Writers were paid by the word in the past. Even so, I would prefer the writing of a Dickens to Grisham any day.
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Tes yeux noirs
Reply Wed 30 Mar, 2016 11:41 am
I take the opposite view. Charles Dickens makes most modern writers seem like stuttering simpletons.
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Robert Gentel
Reply Wed 30 Mar, 2016 11:46 am
@Ray C,
They may have been more loquacious but some people prefer that and think that writing used to be better. It sounds like a matter of preference versus a good vs. bad thing here. Saying something in fewer words is just one way (a form of efficiency) to determine writing quality but is certainly not the only one.
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