Curso de Redacción en Inglés





UNIT # 21

A bit of humour before going on

Estamos convencidos que un poco de humor facilita el aprendizaje. Por ello, a modo de prólogo, en esta primera lección de la TERCERA PARTE del curso transcribiremos algunos pasajes de Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter Writing (Ocho o Nueve Palabras Sabias Acerca de la Redacción de Cartas). Esta obra fue escrita por Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), más conocido por Lewis Carroll y por su obra "Alice in Wonderland" (Alicia en el País de las Maravillas).

Aquí tienes los consejos siempre vigentes (siempre irónicos) de Mr. Carroll que, con el mayor respeto, hemos tratado de adaptar para esta lección:

Hemos considerado importante no traducir este artículo. Sin embargo, acercando el cursor de tu ratón a los textos resaltados en color obtendrás una traducción instantánea -perfectamente adaptada al texto- que te permitirá continuar la lectura.



If the Letter is to be in answer to another, begin by getting out that other letter and reading it through, in order to refresh your memory, as to what it is you have to answer.


Next, Address and Stamp the Envelope. “What! Before writing the Letter?” Most certainly. And I’ll tell you what will happen if you don’t. You will go on writing till the last moment, and, just in the middle of the last sentence, you will become aware that “time's up!” Then comes the hurried signature, the hastily-fastened envelope, the address, a mere hieroglyphic, the frantic appeal, to every one in the house, to lend you a Stamp, the rush to the Post Office, arriving, hot and gasping, just after the box has closed, and finally, a week afterwards, the return of the Letter, marked “address illegible”!


Next, put your own address, in full, at the top of the note-sheet. It is an aggravating thing –I speak from bitter experience– when a friend, staying at some new address, heads his letter “Dover”, simply, assuming that you can get the rest of the address from his previous letter, which perhaps you have destroyed.


Next, put the date in full. It is another aggravating thing, when you wish, years afterwards, to arrange a series of letters, to find them dated “Feb. 17”, “Aug. 2”, without any year to guide you as to which comes first. And never, never, dear Madam (N.B. this remark is addressed to  ladies only: no man would ever do such a thing), put “Wednesday”, simply, as the date!



Here is a golden Rule to begin with. Write legibly. The average temper of the human race would be perceptibly sweetened, if everybody obeyed this Rule! A great deal of  the bad writing in the world comes simply from writing too quickly. Years ago, I used to receive letters from a friend written in one of the most atrocious hands ever invented. It generally took me about a week to read one of his letters, holding it in different positions, and at different distances, till at last the whole series of hieroglyphics was deciphered. If all one's friends wrote like that, Life would be entirely spent in reading their letters!


My second Rule is, don't fill more than a page and a half with apologies for not having written sooner! The best subject, to begin with, is your friend’s last letter. Write with the letter open before you. Answer his questions, and make any remarks his letter suggests. Then go on to what you want to say yourself. This arrangement is more courteous, and pleasanter for the reader, than to fill the letter with your own invaluable remarks, and then hastily answer your friend’s questions in a postscript. Your friend is much more likely to enjoy your wit, after his own anxiety for information has been satisfied.


In referring to anything your friend has said in his letter, it is best to quote the exact words, and not to give a summary of them in your words. A’s impression, of what B has said, expressed in A’s words, will never convey to B the meaning of his own words. Don’t repeat yourself. When once you have said your say, fully and clearly, on a certain point, and have failed to convince your friend, drop that subject: to repeat your arguments, all over again, will simply lead to his doing the same; and so you will go on, like a Circular Decimal. Did you ever know a Circulating Decimal come to an end?


Another Rule is, when you have written a letter that you feel may possibly irritate your friend, put it aside till the next day. Then read it over again, and fancy it addressed to yourself. This will often lead to your writing it all over again, taking out a lot of the vinegar and pepper, and putting in honey instead, and thus making a much more palatable dish of it!


My fifth Rule is, if your friend makes a severe remark, either leave it unnoticed, or make your reply distinctly less severe: and if he makes a friendly remark, tending towards “making up” the little difference that has arisen between you, let your reply be distinctly more friendly.


My sixth Rule is, don't try to have the last word! Never mind your friend’s supposing that you are silent from lack of anything to say: let the thing drop, as soon as it is possible without discourtesy: remember “speech is silvern, but silence is golden”! (N.B.--If you are a gentleman, and your friend is a lady, this Rule is superfluous: you won’t get the last word!)


My seventh Rule is, if it should ever occur to you to write in dispraise of of your friend, be sure you exaggerate enough to make the jesting obvious: a word spoken in jest, but taken as earnest, may lead to very serious consequences. I have known it to lead to the breaking-off of a friendship.


My eighth Rule. When you say, in your letter, “I enclose cheque for £5,” or “I enclose John’s letter for you to see”, leave off writing for a moment –go and get the document referred to– and put it into the envelope.


My ninth Rule. When you get to the end of a notesheet, and find you have more to say, take another piece of paper – a whole sheet, or a scrap, as the case may demand: but whatever you do, don't cross! Remember the old proverb ”Cross-writing makes cross reading”.



If doubtful whether to end with “yours faithfully”, or “yours truly”, or “your most truly”, (there are at least a dozen varieties, before you reach “yours affectionately”), refer to your correspondent’s last letter, and make your winding-up at least as friendly as his: in fact, even if a shade more friendly, it will do no harm!


A Postscript is a very useful invention: but it is not meant (as so many ladies suppose) to contain the real gist of the letter: it serves rather to throw into the shade any little matter we do not wish to make a fuss about. It would be cruel to make it the main subject of your reply.


When you take your letters to the Post, carry them in your hand. If you put them in your pocket you will take a long country-walk (I speak from experience), passing the Post-Office twice, going and returning, and, when you get home, will find them still in your pocket.

That's all !! Did you enjoy the reading?


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