I know cacophony means "harsh or unpleasant sound", but I don't know what “egalitarian documentation” means. I can see it's poly-syllabic and long Latinate words. But why's it cacophony?


A plain style is usually the best style. If you do wish to use figurative language, do so where it will not interfere with communication of substance. When you edit or revise, consider the sensory dimension of words. Omit rhyme (“however clever”), cacophony (“egalitarian documentation”), conspicuous alliteration (“fallibility of four factfinders”), and unintentional puns (“a case without appeal”).

Bahrych (PhD University of Washington in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, JD University of Washington), McLellan (JD Santa Clara University), Merino (JD Stanford). Legal Writing and Analysis in a Nutshell 5th edition (2017) p 93.

  • I suspect that it's something to do with the near-rhyming ends of the words, but I'm not certain.
    – nick012000
    Nov 13, 2020 at 2:05

2 Answers 2


"Egalitarian documentation" can be considered a "cacophony" because it is comprised of so many different phonemes:

ɪˌgælɪˈteərɪən ˌdɒkjʊmɛnˈteɪʃən

Each piece fails to flow from what proceeds it, or connect to what follows it. It feels angular to say aloud.

It's not quite as bad a gargling a mouthful of Legos, but it's not far from trying to throw a box-full of pots and pans up a staircase.


“Egalitarian documentation” is a mouthful!

The "sensory dimension" of the words would be how they feel in the mouth and ears. This person is suggesting that you should write in a plain style that is not difficult to say or distracting to listen to.

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