Inside storiesBMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b1128 (Published 18 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b1128
- Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor
Progress, it goes without saying, is not entirely uniform. Indeed, retrogression sometimes occurs, for example in the style of official prose. Where now it employs neologisms, euphemisms, and acronyms to the point of incomprehensibility, it was once clear, vigorous, and even a model for aspiring writers. Of course, in those days its authors were not so ashamed of what they did that they had to disguise it by the use of opaque language; barbarous locutions conceal a bad conscience.
Can anyone conceive of reading a contemporary official report with pleasure in its literary qualities? Recently I read the Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Condition and Treatment of the Prisoners Confined …