George orwell essay english language

Something similar is happening to English and not because poor writers employ foolish ideas but because unkempt English language makes it easier for them to have foolish thoughts. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language.

george orwell politics and the english language rhetorical analysis

Examples that Orwell gave included "ring the changes", "Achilles' heel", "swan song", and "hotbed". In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used instead of gerunds by examination of instead of by examining.

However, change must not come at the loss of originality and meaning.

george orwell essays summary

Do not use passive where you can use active. These are four of his most notable criticisms made against modern prose and especially political writing. Neither is it concerned with always preferring the Saxon over Latin but it is concerned with using fewer and shorter words to express yourself.

George orwell politics and the english language summary

The heart of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but the British lion's roar at present is like that of Bottom in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream — as gentle as any sucking dove. Operators or Verbal False limbs: Operators do away with the need to select nouns and verbs and create an appearance of symmetry by padding each sentence with extra syllables. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Such bad writers abound in the sphere of sociology, politics and science who believe that the Latin and Greek words are better than Saxon and it is why hundreds of Saxon words have been replaced by Latin and Greek words. Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such resounding commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion, and so on and so forth. I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought. I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Do not use passive where you can use active. Similarly, words like democracy and freedom have several meanings and this allows for deception. Do not use a foreign phrase or a scientific word or jargon if you can think of an English substitute. These metaphors are the ones that have lost their power to evoke an image and are used because they can save people the trouble to invent new phrases for themselves.

In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Professor Hogben 2 plays ducks and drakes with a battery which is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious up in the dictionary and see what it means; 3if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: probably one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of the article in which it occurs.

George orwell essay english language

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. He highlights some specific problems like dying metaphors and pretentious diction which have corrupted language and if thoughts can corrupt language, frivolous language too can corrupt thoughts and the problem can spread farther and farther. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. One would require a deep change of attitude even if one wants to adopt these elementary rules. Something similar is happening to English and not because poor writers employ foolish ideas but because unkempt English language makes it easier for them to have foolish thoughts. Orwell notes that writers of modern prose tend not to write in concrete terms but use a "pretentious latinized style" compare Anglish. This decay has political and economic causes and is not the bad influence of an individual writer, he notes. He highlights five sample passages that are representative of these poor habits. That was not Orwell's intention, which is why he didn't follow them slavishly in his own writing: not in this essay, and not even this list.
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George Orwell: Politics and the English Language