Mr. Winston Churchill when Prime Minister issued a memorandum which said:
Let us have an end of such phrases as these: "It is also of importance to bear in mind the following considerations . . ." or "consideration should be given to the possibility of carrying into effect . . ." Most of these woolly phrases are mere padding, which can be left out altogether, or replaced by a single word. Let us not shrink from using the short expressive phrase even if it is conversational.
"Padding" then in the sense in which Mr. Churchill used the word consists of clumsy and obtrusive stitches on what ought to be a smooth fabric of consecutive thought. No doubt it comes partly from a feeling that wordiness is an ingredient of politeness, and blunt statement is crude, if not rude. There is an element of truth in this: an over-staccato style is as irritating as an over-sostenuto one. But it is a matter of degree; and official prose is of the sort that calls for plainness rather than elegance: Moreover the habit of "padding" springs partly from less meritorious notions—that the dignity of an official's calling demands a certain verbosity, and that naked truth is indecent and should be clothed in wrappings of woolly words.
Certain clichés that are favourites with padders are dealt with under their own headings in this book, e.g. Appreciate, Connexion, Information. Here are added a few miscellaneous examples. In each the words that cannot escape a charge of being mere padding are italicised.
'I am in receipt of your letter of the 4th December, and for your information the following extract from regulations under the Act is quoted for your benefit. ..
I am prepared to accept the discharge of this account by payment in instalments, but it should be pointed out that no further service can be allowed until the account is again in credit.
The opportunity is taken to mention that it is understood . . .
I regret that the wrong form was forwarded. In the circumstances I am forwarding a superseding one.
It should be noted that there is a possibility of a further sale.
It has been ascertained that Mr. X has kindly consented to share his telephone with you. In this connexion therefore I have pleasure in enclosing herewith the necessary agreement.
An example of padding of this sort is the precautionary phrase that so often opens every new paragraph of a formal official letter: "I am to add", "I am further to observe", "I am moreover to remark", "finally I am to point out", and so forth.
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