Avoiding Ambiguity



The disastrous charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava in the Crimean War was made because of a carelessly worded order to ‘charge for the guns’—meaning that some British guns which were in an exposed position should be hauled out of reach of the enemy, not that the Russian batteries should be charged.


  1. 1.
    Robert Graves and Alan Hodge, The Use and Abuse of the English Language (New York: Marlowe & Company, 1995), p. 95.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    e. e. cummings, “Buffalo Bill’s,” Complete Poems: 1904–1962, ed. by George J. Firmage, (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2016).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Luis García [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
  4. 4.
    Robert F. Gunning, “The Fog Index after Twenty Years,” Journal of Business Communication, vol. 6, no. 2 (1969), pp. 3–13.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    H. W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Theodore Bernstein, The Careful Writer, 2nd ed. (New York: Free Press, 1995).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of EngineeringPenn State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations