Cleartext is a text editor that only lets you use the 1000 most common words in English

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Pay someone to dumb me down?

Media and product placementia do that already.

And if it’s free? Fuck that.

I’ll Hemingway my way myself, thank you very much…



I want a calculator that only uses the numbers zero through four. I’ve had it up to here with those high-falutin’ 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.


Oh no, they didn’t get the memo.


A suffusion of yellow.


Step 1. Take up English.
Step 2. Eliminate all but the 2000 most common words.
Step 3. Use a sensible language, such as Malay, Cantonese, or Hokkien to make up the difference.


why would words make you look smarter?

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oh wait I get it, words make you look smarter when you’re wearing them on a t-shirt.

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1000 words sounds about right if your target audience is seriously international or Tarzan.

My “absolutely essential Latin vocabulary” booklet from high school contained a bit over 1000 words. That was seriously limiting without text-specific additions.

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This does look like fun if you’re doing constrained writing for entertainment.

I sometimes prefer to use fancy words with nuanced expression and nice subtleties and distinctions in meaning where simple words serve poorly, so I wouldn’t use this for anything but fun. I don’t think my vocabulary makes me look smart, that isn’t the point. Words are tools, and many excellent ones are not among the 1000 most common.

His little write-up is annoying as Hell, though. He didn’t understand Orwell - if you’re writing political propaganda, short Anglo-Saxon words are powerful. Not everything is political propaganda.

Short words don’t filter bullshit, a skilled liar knows short, strong, emotive words are the most persuasive. He cited Orwell, but seems to not have noticed Orwell was explaining the most effective way to pass bullshit is with small words.


Someone tweeted

And I have to ask, is he familiar with the stylistic quirks of software patent applications?

A digital signal processing system for receiving from a Fourier Transform processor a first multiplicity of data points which together represent a Fourier Transform and processing the first multiplicity of data points to generate a second multiplicity of data points which together represent one or more other Fourier Transforms, comprises: a processing means for processing the first multiplicity of data points to generate the second multiplicity of data points by processing a plurality of pairs of data points of the first multiplicity of data points, each pair of data points comprising first and second data points that are to be processed together at the processing means. The system further comprises a circuit for connecting the Fourier Transform processor and the processing means to route the first multiplicity of data points from the Fourier Transform processor to the processing means, in use the circuit being controlled so that the first and second data points of any given pair of the plurality of pairs of data points are input to the processing means substantially simultaneously and with at least one of them having been routed from the Fourier Transform processor to the processing means without being stored in memory. The system provides for reduced latency and memory requirements compared to known systems."

Is there a simpler way of expressing that thought? Almost certainly. Would using nonspecialized vocabulary help? Probably not.


Realated, I think, to singlish and other pidgins and creoles.

There’s one in Canada—although actually I think it’s now spoken, to the extent it’s still spoken, on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. It was clearly created by bilinguals because there’s no distortion in either half of the language. All the verbs and verb phrases and the basic sentence syntax are from Cree, which is an Algonquian language. All the nouns and noun phrases, including adjectives and articles, are French. There’s a little bit of leakage from the Cree into the French and none in the other direction,

There used to be, maybe still is, programs to evaluate a text file. I forgot how it evaluated, but it was about readability, and word length did play into it.

The premise was that you could write complicated ideas without the text being hard to follow. It was the writing that made things complicated, not what was being conveyed.

Made sense when I read about it.


It’s not the stuff, it’s the style that stupefies.
– John Wisdom, Philosophical Perplexity

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There’s the Flesch Kincaid Grade level equation

Where Grade Level equals

Your post has a FKGL of 6.2, by the way.


I wonder if xkcd Randall used this to write Thing Explainer?

And then people make the jump from “grade level” to “smart.” Smart people, you see, would write interminable run-on sentences with loads of great big words. And, by extension, smart politicians would talk that way. Bonus points if nobody could understand them - then they must be really smart! And we would all be cowed by their vocabulary and vote for them, which is why William F. Buckley served four consecutive terms as President.

It’s fun to click through the last link to the hate mail. Lots of people seemed genuinely offended by this free little bit of software.


Oh yeah. I remember being so proud back in 5th grade hitting the “Statistics” button in MS Word 95, and seeing it pop up with a Flesch Kincaid of 14.5. I was an intolerably smug little shit of a kid.


Is dumb.