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Want punch? Short sentences drive home complex words and meanings

Who would endure till the end a story that starts this way: “In basic logic, there is such a notion as verecundiam fallacy”?

The only savior of that sentence is its length. It is short. Otherwise, nobody would read past that sentence.

Everyone would be instantly screaming in their head, VeraWHO?

Please raise your hand if you’ve ever met that word in a newspaper. Nobody? Well, The Standard on February 4 let veteran columnist Barack Muluka get away with it.

In the story titled, “Sifuna’s desperate adrenaline misses the point,” Muluka managed to steal the show with big words. A skillful communicator, he succeeded by one simple magic: Keeping things short.

Having nearly lost the reader with two big words in his opening (fallacy was the second), the writer was still brave enough to throw more big words, in Latin, in the second graf.

“Known in its Latin original as argumentum ad verecundiam…” Eti WHO?

Chill. Muluka was explaining a mistake that ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna had made at a TV debate.

Sifuna had reportedly told a fellow panelist to “shut up, because you are not a lawyer,” the story said.

And that was a logical mistake, the writer said. The big Latin word he had used meant ignoring logic, he explained. What logic? The mistaken supposition that just because you are an expert, your argument will always be right, and everyone else’s will be wrong.

Muluka punched the point home with a simple, short sentence: “Appealing to your qualifications does not save your limping proposition.”

Bam! Ten words.

Sample this paragraph: “Raise the level of your argument, not your voice. Respect, also, those you speak about, especially when they are absent. This is common sense.”

Three sentences. Each perfectly delivered. What’s perfect about each? No word is wasted. Each is straight and to the point.

And they are weaved into short sentences, which save the day even in the most complex of situations.

The magic of short sentences is that they drive home even the most complex for words. Or arguments.

And a reader arrives at the end pleasantly surprised that they did not put down the story.

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