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less is more
It sounds intimidating, but a compression ratio simply expresses the amount of meaning in relation to the length of the message. Given a choice, PE always prefers to increase the meaningfulness of the message without adding to its length.
There are two ways to look at this characteristic of Platform English.
You can decrease the number of words while the meaning stays the same (sentences A and B).
Or, you can hold the number of words constant, but pack more meaning into those words (sentences C and D).
Some words are more highly compressed than others, if they convey more fully articulated meaning. For example, walk means ‘to move along using your legs.’
That’s a considerable compression in itself: one word conveys the meaning of six. But a word like amble means something more complex, something that would take many more words to express: ‘to move along using your legs, at a relatively slow pace, with no destination in mind, and no set limit of time or distance.’
With ‘amble,’ one word conveys the meaning of four times as many words!
Writing teachers usually find the compression ratio to be a useful and flexible tool. They can conference with students about how much meaning is concentrated in a given structure across different levels, from a single word, to a phrase, sentence, paragraph, or even an entire discourse. It's more accessible, practical, and neutral than simply repeating the handbook advice to "be concise."
A. My Auntie Gloria is neat and clean and fussy and a little bit compulsive. (14 words)
B. My Auntie Gloria is fastidious. (4 words)
Both sentences mean pretty much the same thing, but one is 10 words shorter!
C. We had a very, very nice conversation. (7 words)
D. We had a stimulating, though frustrating, conversation. (7 words)
In both cases, the ratio of length to meaning is higher (more compressed) in the B sentences.