Sunday, October 22, 2017

MEMO FROM NARA



“Be brief” – one of my teachers used to tell me when I was a student in the college. I used to think that it will save time if we are brief in talking or writing. Usually, we explain a past action or the present happenings in an exaggerated manner so that the one who hears will get interested to hear. At the same time even if we are brief, people get interested to hear us. This fact is not known to the chatterboxes.

There are people who do not allow others to talk – they start in one subject and end up in some other subject which is altogether different. For example, they may comment on the present day policies and end up in a local dispute between a husband and wife. It is good to spend time for those who do not have any other thing to do. But for busy people it will be a waste of time, so they like to hear in brief. Brief statements can tell us the salient points which are enough for adding to our knowledge.

We see in newspapers or websites the bulleted news items under the heading ‘News Digest.’ A glance at it will tell us what happened yesterday around the world. Writing in brief without missing the main point is in fact an art. One has to practise to talk brief or write brief. When I was a student, there used to be a question on précis writing, probably even now it may be there in schools. The question will have a large passage on some subject like railways or patriotism from some source. We have to read the passage and understand the content and briefly write a précis without missing out the main and salient points in about100 words or so. Of course I, like many others did not take it seriously. We answered the questions only to score some marks. But later on I understood the importance of précis writing.

When we talk or write brief, we use appropriate words more carefully to express our thoughts. Most of the scientific journals request us to write brief research papers to publish. Nowadays it is very costly to print elaborate writings and also for the readers to go through number of pages to extract out a simple point. The readers prefer to have brief reports so that they understand very easily what the scientific research is about.

Poster in a scientific conference is one such brief way of putting the findings in a nutshell. Many scientists and academics find it difficult to brief their findings. They write and rewrite to make their poster brief. Sometimes they solicit others help to make the posters brief.

In olden days people used to write long letters extending to four to five pages for their loved ones. But nowadays, a few lines in e-mail or short messages in sms are being sent. Even the words are being abbreviated in a much distorted way to make the mail short and brief.

The modern world is following brevity in expressing one’s thought. The communication among people has become so short that we like to be heard very less. Language provides us all possibilities to narrate a long story and at the same time languages also provide us words which can convey messages in a nutshell. Like code words used by defence persons, young people of today are practising short messages for their friends and others.

Novelists and literary giants used to write a lot to describe a person or a situation in order to bring the attention of the reader into their story. Some of the readers read every word and try to understand the inner meanings and enjoy the author’s aim and also the theme and running of the story, prose or poetry. Even today, in the world of brevity we do find people who like to read a roundabout description sacrificing their precious time. I hope, the number of those people will be getting reduced over time. Certainly the future is for brief communication and deep understanding. “Be brief” – should be our motto, but it become difficult at times to be brief. We describe, expand and exaggerate as I have done in this write-up.

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