Politics and English Language
Politics and the English Language is
an essay by George Orwell that criticizes the “ugly and inaccurate”
written English of his time and examines the connection between political
orthodoxies and the debasement of language.
The issue being described in the essay is about the political
language which, according to Orwell, “is designed to make lies
sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of
solidity to pure wind.”
It tackles about the Politicians who use vague and
jargon words in their political speeches as a means to brainwash their
listeners with an agenda to gain peoples’ trust. And to make them believed that
if a person is speaking well and using words that aren’t understandable enough
for a simple individual, it forms the idea that a person is well educated and
knows what they’re saying. Which is in the present time is still a stigma for
everyone especially in the time of social media.
In the essay he talks about how English is being
changed in a bad way and he gives the reasons what is causing it to change. He
provides evidences by showing five passages of text which “illustrate
various of the mental vices from which we now suffer.”
The samples are:
by Harold Laski (“five negatives in 53 words”),
an essay by Paul
Goodman on psychology in the July 1945 issue of politics (“simply
pamphlet (“an accumulation of stale phrases”)
letter in Tribune (in which “words and meaning have parted company”).
these, Orwell identifies a “catalogue of swindles and perversions”
which he classifies as “dying metaphors”, “operators
or verbal false limbs”, “pretentious diction” and
All these examples, Orwell argues, have two common
faults: staleness of imagery and lack of precision. In his follow-up analysis,
he discusses general characteristics of bad writing, including pretentious
diction and meaningless words. His purpose in the analysis is to show “the
special connection between politics and the debasement of language.” Orwell
notes that writers of modern prose tend not to write in concrete terms but use
a “pretentious latinized style”. He claims writers find it easier to use
more words than to pick words specifically for their meaning.
Orwell criticizes bad writing habits
which spread by imitation. He argues that writers must think more clearly
because thinking clearly “is a necessary first step toward political
regeneration”. He later emphasizes that he was not “considering the
literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing
and not for concealing or preventing thought.”
of six rules is the resolution for the said issues; Orwell said it was easy
for his contemporaries to slip into bad writing of the sort he had described
and that the temptation to use meaningless or hackneyed phrases was like a
“packet of aspirins always at one’s elbow”.
However, he concluded that the progressive decline
of the English language was reversible, and suggested six rules which, he
claimed, would prevent many of these faults although, “one could keep all
of them and still write bad English”.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of
speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Orwell gives of breaking this rule include ring the changes, Achilles’ heel,
swan song, and hotbed.
these as “dying metaphors”, and argues that these phrases are used
without knowing what is truly being said. He says that using metaphors of this
kind makes the original meaning of the phrases meaningless, because those using
the phrases do not know their original meaning.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a
jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything
my opinion the implication of the issues is making us aware of how political
writing can not only confuse us but it can also change the way we think.
The main ideas of the text are the abstract and
sloppy language used in political writing, which influences us to write in the
same manner, because it is what is being taught to us. Another main idea of the
text is to show us how certain events can be hidden from the audience through
the use of vague language. In writing this essay, George Orwell is trying to
make us aware and to pay attention to these kinds of texts and also to avoid
doing the same thing, when writing our own texts. By doing this he is making us
aware of the fact that we are being tricked. He is also trying to get us to
step away from this kind of writing because it doesn’t have any meaning or
imagery in it, which only builds up to the vagueness in our language, making it
harder to understand one another.
Language is used to create meaning in the text.
Orwell uses diction such as vague, abstract, incompetence, bad, worse, ugly and
many more. In his essay, these words have a negative connotation and are used
to describe the kind of writing used in politics and modern English.
The text relates to theory of knowledge, when it
mentions how our written language is what influences our thinking. Since,
Language is one of the ways of knowing. An example of this in the text is in
the beginning when Orwell states, “It becomes ugly and inaccurate because
our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier
for us to have foolish thoughts.” When he says this he means that our language
becomes ugly because of our thoughts, however, the lack of tidiness in our
language is what influences our way of thinking. In other words, if our
language is sloppy then our thinking becomes sloppy as well. He also states,
“If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think
clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration.” In this
sentence, he tells us that if we don’t use vague/abstract language in our
writing then we can think clearly, and thinking clearly can help us change the
way political speeches and writings are structured.
To conclude, George Orwell spreads his overall
message on why we shouldn’t use vague language in our writing. He gives us
various examples of how our language can be vague, since it lacks imagery and
meaning. If we avoid this we will be able to think better and we won’t be as
misled by political language because we will know that it is purposely trying
to confuse us. Personally, I agree with George Orwell, because I think that he
provides enough evidence to prove his theories. His comparisons and
explanations clearly show the message he is trying to convey to the audience.