Casino Politics And The English Language

The essay focuses on 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.

This unclear prose was a "contagion" which had spread to those who did not intend to hide the truth, and it concealed a writer's thoughts from himself and others. Orwell relates what he believes to be a close association between bad prose and oppressive ideology:. In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. The insincerity of the writer perpetuates the decline of the language as people particularly politicians, Orwell later notes attempt to disguise their intentions behind euphemisms and convoluted phrasing. Orwell says that this decline is self-perpetuating.

He argues that it is easier to think with poor English because the language is in decline, as the language declines, "foolish" thoughts become even easier, reinforcing Casino Politics And The English Language original cause:. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a Prizes Casino Castellon De Plana, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.

It is rather the same thing that is happening to the 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. Orwell discusses "pretentious diction" and "meaningless words".

Orwell chooses five passages of text which "illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. From these, Orwell identifies a "catalogue of swindles and perversions" which he classifies as "dying metaphors", "operators or verbal false limbs", "pretentious diction" and "meaningless words". Orwell notes that writers of modern prose tend not to write in concrete terms but use a "pretentious latinized style" compare Anglish. He claims writers find it is easier to gum together long strings of words than to pick words specifically for their meaning, particularly in political writing, where Orwell notes that "[o]rthodoxy Orwell criticises bad writing habits which spread by imitation.

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He argues that writers must think more clearly because thinking clearly "is a necessary first step toward political regeneration". He later emphasises 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.

As a further example, Orwell "translates" Ecclesiastes 9: I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

Orwell points out that this "translation" contains many more syllables but gives no concrete illustrations, as the original did, nor does it contain any vivid, arresting images or phrases. The headmaster's wife at St Cyprian's SchoolMrs. Cicely Vaughan Wilkes nicknamed "Flip"taught English to Orwell and used the same method to illustrate good writing to her pupils. She would use simple passages from the King James Bible and then "translate" them into poor English to show the clarity and brilliance of the original.

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". In particular, such phrases are always ready to form the writer's thoughts for him to save him the bother of thinking, or writing, clearly.

Politics and the English Language pt1

However, he concluded that the progressive decline of the English language was reversible, [6] 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". From the time of his wife's death in March Orwell had maintained a high work rate, producing some literary contributions, many of them lengthy. Animal Farm had been published in August and Orwell was experiencing a time of critical and commercial literary success.

He was seriously ill in February and was desperate to get away from London to the island of Jura, Scotlandwhere he wanted to start work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both reflect Orwell's concern with truth and how truth depends upon the use of language.

Orwell noted the deliberate use of misleading language to hide unpleasant political and military facts and also identified a laxity of language among those he identified as pro-soviet. In The Prevention of Literature he also speculated on the type of literature under a future totalitarian society which he predicted would be formulaic and low grade sensationalism.

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Around the same time Orwell wrote an unsigned editorial for Polemic in response to an attack from " Modern Quarterly ". In this he highlights the double-talk and appalling prose of J. Bernal in the same magazine, and cites Edmund Wilson 's damnation of the prose of Joseph E.

  • "Politics and the English Language," Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the. English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language -- so the argument runs -- must nguyensan.meg: casino.
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Davies in Mission to Moscow. In his biography of Orwell, Michael Shelden called the article "his most important essay on style", [10] while Bernard Crick made no reference to the work at all in his original biography, reserving his praise for Orwell's essays in Polemicwhich cover a similar political theme.

Linguist Geoffrey Pullum —despite being an admirer of Orwell's writing—criticised the essay for "its insane and unfollowable insistence that good writing must avoid all phrases and word uses that are familiar.

Orwell runs to a little over 20 percent in "Politics and the English Language". Clearly he found the construction useful in spite of his advice to avoid it as much as possible". Introductory writing courses frequently cite this essay. Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language' and English Compositionset in motion a "wide variety of critiques, reconsiderations, and outright attacks against the plain style" [18] that is argued for in Orwell's essay. While there are many scholars who defend Orwell's arguments in "Politics and the English Language", there are also those who see many issues with the essay.

Orwell's writings on the English language have had a large impact on classrooms, journalism, and other writing. In Trail's "Teaching Argument and the Rhetoric of Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language'" it is said that "A large part of Orwell's rhetorical approach consists of attempting at every opportunity to acquire reader participation, to involve the reader as an active and engaged consumer of the essay.

Popular journalism is full of what may be the inheritance of Orwell's reader involvement devices". Orwell's preoccupation with language as a theme can be seen in protagonist Gordon Comstock's dislike of advertising slogans in Keep the Aspidistra Flyingan early work of his.

This preoccupation is also visible in Homage to Cataloniaand continued as an underlying theme of Orwell's work for the years after World War II. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Orwell's Prep School Woes". Geoffrey Pullum - Language Log. Retrieved 7 September Retrieved 18 January Western Political Science Association.

This audio file was created from a revision of the article " Politics and the English Language " datedand does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. Retrieved from " https: English language Essays by George Orwell essays Essays in literary criticism Works originally published in Horizon magazine.

Pages using citations with accessdate and no URL EngvarB from September Use dmy dates from September All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from August All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from February Spoken articles Articles with hAudio microformats.

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  1. Politics and the English Language, the essay of George Orwell. First published: April by/in Horizon, GB, nguyensan.meg: casino.:
    "Politics and the English Language" () is an essay by George Orwell that criticises the "ugly and inaccurate" written English of his time and examines the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of language. The essay focuses on political language, which, according to Orwell, "is designed to make  Missing: casino. And more online Easily share your publications and get Special Report: As the U S government doles an analysis of george orwells essay politics and the english language out tens of millions of dollars to combat Russian propaganda. slysa ea annarra falla Lesa meira Casino Capitalism: Neoliberalism in. Yes, Soft Power And Its Relationship With Hard Power Politics Essay, free gillar keno kommer poker att casino Cash at Collection Terminal free de. Developing International Role Of Human Resource Managers Commerce Essay; Reasons To Adopt A Dog English Language Essay; Technical Essay Layout; Looking At.
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    impacts of casinos. Language and Theory. Before we proceed with our analysis, we wish to address and define several key terms that will be used throughout the rest of this paper. George Orwell wrote in his essay. “Politics and the English Language” that “the whole tendency of modern prose is away. Weiyi Lim says the difference in English standards in Singapore and Hong Kong comes down to the one major factor dividing them – government policy. Merchant of unheard of essay - middle or la di and supports American culture i th scholars are. your own Essay example essay and being able best-known plays. it is an issue Mumu turgenev Essay casino, Using Hofstedes Cultural Model English Language Essay. Using Hofstedes Cultural Model English Language Essay.
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Except for the useful abbreviations i. Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite, ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous, and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon numbers 1.

The jargon peculiar to Marxist writing hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry, lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc. It is often easier to make up words of this kind deregionalize, impermissible, extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth than to think up the English words that will cover one's meaning.

The result, in general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning 2. Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead, sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader.

If words like black and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead and living , he would see at once that language was being used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused. The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy , not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides.

It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different. Statements like Marshal Petain was a true patriot, The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent to deceive.

Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:. I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account. This is a parody, but not a very gross one. Exhibit 3 above, for instance, contains several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that I have not made a full translation.

The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness. Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first contains forty-nine words but only sixty syllables, and all its words are those of everyday life. The second contains thirty-eight words of ninety syllables: The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English.

I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes. As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer.

It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious.

When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump.

By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image.

When these images clash — as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot — it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. Professor Laski 1 uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip — alien for akin — making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness.

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; 3 , if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: In 4 , the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink.

In 5 , words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning — they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another — but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying.

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly?

Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in.

The will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. In his biography of Orwell, Michael Shelden called the article "his most important essay on style", [10] while Bernard Crick made no reference to the work at all in his original biography, reserving his praise for Orwell's essays in Polemic , which cover a similar political theme.

Linguist Geoffrey Pullum —despite being an admirer of Orwell's writing—criticised the essay for "its insane and unfollowable insistence that good writing must avoid all phrases and word uses that are familiar.

Orwell runs to a little over 20 percent in "Politics and the English Language". Clearly he found the construction useful in spite of his advice to avoid it as much as possible". Introductory writing courses frequently cite this essay. Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language' and English Composition , set in motion a "wide variety of critiques, reconsiderations, and outright attacks against the plain style" [18] that is argued for in Orwell's essay.

While there are many scholars who defend Orwell's arguments in "Politics and the English Language", there are also those who see many issues with the essay. Orwell's writings on the English language have had a large impact on classrooms, journalism, and other writing. In Trail's "Teaching Argument and the Rhetoric of Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language'" it is said that "A large part of Orwell's rhetorical approach consists of attempting at every opportunity to acquire reader participation, to involve the reader as an active and engaged consumer of the essay.

Popular journalism is full of what may be the inheritance of Orwell's reader involvement devices". Orwell's preoccupation with language as a theme can be seen in protagonist Gordon Comstock's dislike of advertising slogans in Keep the Aspidistra Flying , an early work of his. This preoccupation is also visible in Homage to Catalonia , and continued as an underlying theme of Orwell's work for the years after World War II.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Orwell's Prep School Woes". Geoffrey Pullum - Language Log. Retrieved 7 September Retrieved 18 January Western Political Science Association. This audio file was created from a revision of the article " Politics and the English Language " dated , and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. Retrieved from " https: English language Essays by George Orwell essays Essays in literary criticism Works originally published in Horizon magazine. Pages using citations with accessdate and no URL EngvarB from September Use dmy dates from September All articles with unsourced statements Articles with unsourced statements from August All articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases Articles with specifically marked weasel-worded phrases from February Spoken articles Articles with hAudio microformats.

Views Read Edit View history. English was given top priority right from the start in Singapore. Schools using Chinese as a medium of instruction were phased out in the s. By contrast, in post-handover Hong Kong, Putonghua is seen as more valuable than English. A recent census report shows that it has replaced English as the second-most-spoken language by the residents after Cantonese.

Still, if Hong Kong wishes to connect with the world outside Greater China, the government needs to work harder at getting people to like and use English in their daily life. Weiyi Lim teaches media writing at the National University of Singapore and runs an education firm. Skip to main content. Politics and the English language: Monday, 31 October, , 5: Monday, 31 October, , 6: You are signed up.

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The second contains not a single fresh, arresting phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a shortened version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.

As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.

The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious.

When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.

This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash — as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot — it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay.

Professor Laski 1 uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip — alien for akin — making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness. 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; 3 , if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: In 4 , the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink.

In 5 , words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning — they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another — but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it?

What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. The will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.

It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear. In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.

The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestos, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: And this is not altogether fanciful.

A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself.

If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity. In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible.

Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:. The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details.

The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow.

Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.

I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority.

Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned , which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence 3 , to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable.

But all these are minor points. The defence of the English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness.

On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around.

In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning.

Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person.

This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally.

But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:. These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.

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. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism.

Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end.

If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account. Orwell points out that this "translation" contains many more syllables but gives no concrete illustrations, as the original did, nor does it contain any vivid, arresting images or phrases.

The headmaster's wife at St Cyprian's School , Mrs. Cicely Vaughan Wilkes nicknamed "Flip" , taught English to Orwell and used the same method to illustrate good writing to her pupils. She would use simple passages from the King James Bible and then "translate" them into poor English to show the clarity and brilliance of the original. 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".

In particular, such phrases are always ready to form the writer's thoughts for him to save him the bother of thinking, or writing, clearly. However, he concluded that the progressive decline of the English language was reversible, [6] 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".

From the time of his wife's death in March Orwell had maintained a high work rate, producing some literary contributions, many of them lengthy. Animal Farm had been published in August and Orwell was experiencing a time of critical and commercial literary success.

He was seriously ill in February and was desperate to get away from London to the island of Jura, Scotland , where he wanted to start work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Both reflect Orwell's concern with truth and how truth depends upon the use of language. Orwell noted the deliberate use of misleading language to hide unpleasant political and military facts and also identified a laxity of language among those he identified as pro-soviet. In The Prevention of Literature he also speculated on the type of literature under a future totalitarian society which he predicted would be formulaic and low grade sensationalism.

Around the same time Orwell wrote an unsigned editorial for Polemic in response to an attack from " Modern Quarterly ". In this he highlights the double-talk and appalling prose of J. Bernal in the same magazine, and cites Edmund Wilson 's damnation of the prose of Joseph E. Davies in Mission to Moscow. In his biography of Orwell, Michael Shelden called the article "his most important essay on style", [10] while Bernard Crick made no reference to the work at all in his original biography, reserving his praise for Orwell's essays in Polemic , which cover a similar political theme.

Linguist Geoffrey Pullum —despite being an admirer of Orwell's writing—criticised the essay for "its insane and unfollowable insistence that good writing must avoid all phrases and word uses that are familiar. Orwell runs to a little over 20 percent in "Politics and the English Language".

Clearly he found the construction useful in spite of his advice to avoid it as much as possible". Introductory writing courses frequently cite this essay. Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language' and English Composition , set in motion a "wide variety of critiques, reconsiderations, and outright attacks against the plain style" [18] that is argued for in Orwell's essay.

While there are many scholars who defend Orwell's arguments in "Politics and the English Language", there are also those who see many issues with the essay. Orwell's writings on the English language have had a large impact on classrooms, journalism, and other writing. In Trail's "Teaching Argument and the Rhetoric of Orwell's 'Politics and the English Language'" it is said that "A large part of Orwell's rhetorical approach consists of attempting at every opportunity to acquire reader participation, to involve the reader as an active and engaged consumer of the essay.

Popular journalism is full of what may be the inheritance of Orwell's reader involvement devices". Orwell's preoccupation with language as a theme can be seen in protagonist Gordon Comstock's dislike of advertising slogans in Keep the Aspidistra Flying , an early work of his. This preoccupation is also visible in Homage to Catalonia , and continued as an underlying theme of Orwell's work for the years after World War II.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Orwell's Prep School Woes". Geoffrey Pullum - Language Log. Retrieved 7 September Retrieved 18 January

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I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.

As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer.

It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.

The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don't have to hunt about for the words; you also don't have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style.

Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump.

By using stale metaphors, similes, and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor is to call up a visual image. When these images clash — as in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is thrown into the melting pot — it can be taken as certain that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is naming; in other words he is not really thinking.

Look again at the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. Professor Laski 1 uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous, making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the slip — alien for akin — making further nonsense, and several avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness. 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; 3 , if one takes an uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: In 4 , the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink.

In 5 , words and meaning have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually have a general emotional meaning — they dislike one thing and want to express solidarity with another — but they are not interested in the detail of what they are saying.

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly?

Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. The will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.

It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear.

In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets, leading articles, manifestos, White papers and the speeches of undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid, homemade turn of speech.

When one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases — bestial, atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder to shoulder — one often has a curious feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy: And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine.

The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved, as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when one utters the responses in church.

And this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity. In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of the political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.

Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this:. The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find — this is a guess which I have not sufficient knowledge to verify — that the German, Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one's elbow.

Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against. By this morning's post I have received a pamphlet dealing with conditions in Germany. I open it at random, and here is almost the first sentence I see: This invasion of one's mind by ready-made phrases lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one's brain.

I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail.

Silly words and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. Two recent examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone unturned , which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists. There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un- formation out of existence 3 , to reduce the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive out foreign phrases and strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness unfashionable.

But all these are minor points. The defence of the English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best to start by saying what it does not imply.

On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. On the other hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one's meaning.

What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualising you probably hunt about until you find the exact words that seem to fit it.

When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one's meaning as clear as one can through pictures and sensations.

Afterward one can choose — not simply accept — the phrases that will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what impressions one's words are likely to make on another person. This last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness generally.

But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:. These rules sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.

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. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext for advocating a kind of political quietism.

Since you don't know what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognise that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself.

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. It is hard to see any practical reason for this change of fashion: Wrey Gardiner scores by aiming at simple bull's-eyes with precision.

By contrast, in post-handover Hong Kong, Putonghua is seen as more valuable than English. A recent census report shows that it has replaced English as the second-most-spoken language by the residents after Cantonese. Still, if Hong Kong wishes to connect with the world outside Greater China, the government needs to work harder at getting people to like and use English in their daily life. Weiyi Lim teaches media writing at the National University of Singapore and runs an education firm.

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Politics and the English language: Peter Hennessy at TEDxHousesofParliament