The Daily Parker

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Better a witty fool

Wrapping up my day, reading irrelevancies and trivia online, I had occasion to Google one of my favorite lines, "Better a witty fool than a foolish wit."

I am horrified and saddened to report that the first site in the search results was "No Fear Shakespeare," to which I refuse to link out of love for the English language. Orwell was right, as always:

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known 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.

Here it is in modern English:

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.

Orwell wrote that in 1946, before my own mother was born. He was right about so much it scares me. (So was Huxley*.)

By the way, the second result on the list also made me shake my head sadly. Click through if you must.

* I forgot Brave New World came out in 1932. That, to me, makes it scarier.