26 FEBRUARY 1954, Page 7

a Although I shudder to think what would happen if

Gunning Fleisch were turned loose on A Spectator's Notebook, it is ear_._since the papers which they find most readable are in fact read by most people—that a keen journalist will ignore their tenets at his peril. (That sentence, for instance, contains no wuo less than 48 words; it should have contained 19. TApe- imrin sentences," says Mr. Palmer in a vivid though rather Precise anatomical `.` only choke the reader.") There is, for instance, the question of hard.words.' The Mirror uses only 8 per cent. of these, against 12.3 per cent. in The Times, and Mr. Palmer says that such words, if employed, should be followed by an explanation of their meaning. I am all too well aware that my vocabulary (i.e., the words I use) is often disfigured (made ugly) by my penchant (French word, thought by me to mean inclination) for the polysyllabic, the exotic and the abstruse—you can jolly well look those up for yourselves —and that this all adds to the unreadability of what I write. But I fear it is too late for me to discharge or even to remuster all the words that roost among the cobwebs in my skull, and I like to think that—when the Golden Age dawns, when every sentence in every newspaper contains only 16.5 very short, very common words—I shall still, in the research laboratories of Gunning University or the Fleisch Foundation, be rendering to students of English the same sort of service that the coelacanth renders to ichthyologists.