Unleash your inner bureaucrat

Dense, convoluted bureaucratic waffle is everywhere these days. I do what I can to humanise it when it comes across my desk for editing, but a nice little exercise is to try going the other way.

I got the idea from George Orwell, who turned this lovely verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

into this turgid horror of verbiage:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

There is definitely a game in this.

Here’s a powerful, well-known quote that I’ve rendered into a shambling herd of zombie polysyllables:

In relation to the decision regarding the likelihood and location of combat operations, I can today announce proposals for a national rollout of military activities going forward such that both organised and irregular domestic defensive units will be situated so as to repel coastal incursions; sites currently designated for aeronautical disembarkment will be repurposed for the engagement of hostile forces; agricultural production areas and urban thoroughfares will see confrontation implementation procedures; high-altitude zones have been earmarked for the deployment and utilisation of martial resources; under no eventuality is a strategic shift towards a capitulatory stance envisaged.

Can you guess the original? Yes, of course you can.

Now try your own. Pick a famous piece of language and bureaucratise the life out of it.

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  • Hallvord R. M. Steen  On September 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Really funny challenge – though, for the non-native speaker of English, perhaps you could add a comment explaining what your starting point was? Shakespeare?

  • Tom Freeman  On September 9, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    The original of that was one of Winston Churchill’s best: “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

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