George orwell politics and the english language thesis
We would need long wordy phrases with everlasting descriptions of items. Yet in his essay I found that he argued for a more modern style of writing. He felt that sentences should be short and to the point and that when possible we should try and use a simple English word in place of a more complicated scientific or Latin word. All of these ideas laid out one the main things he thought was wrong with modern English. He felt that writing now lost much of its meaning. Authors by using overused metaphors and phrases one after the other created a series of phrases that had little meaning. Although the reader might know the meaning of the phrase by itself once it has become over used in writing it loses most of its meaning.
As a result this leaves the reader to interpret the now vague argument made by the author. This idea had the most effect on me. Often I feel that my ideas get lost in the delivery. As I try to make my argument seem elaborate and sophisticated it loses all precision.
Orwell notes how the government to avoid actually telling the public about their actions used this concept. The governments use of over complicated words results in a lack of precision and imagery to what they are saying. This leaves the reader with no idea about what actually happened. While Orwell wrote this essay over fifty years ago this is still a problem we face today. George Orwell discusses the change in the purpose of language in his essay, Politics and the English Language.
He argues that English has evolved to include bad habits that lead to foolish thoughts. I definitely agree with his points that we use pretentious diction to make our selves sound smart. In my high school classes, it always felt like if you used the longer, foreign words that are not used in daily life that somehow it was now better and more academic.
Also, there is definitely an abundance of meaningless words that we use today.
Analysis of Orwell's "Politics and The English Language
I think that as we try to sound smarter, we use words that sound important and fancy, leading to a bunch of meaningless statements. When I would show my thesis to my history teacher, she would always ask what each word meant. I think that many of the bad habits in our language that Orwell pointed out are correlated; by using our words to try to impress others we end up using pretentious, meaningless words and dying metaphors. My professor is a linguist, and he mentioned how language is dynamic and changes over time. In our daily lives, we have gone from trying to sound smarter with longer words, to shortening most words and phrases into acronyms.
In this shorter essay, George Orwell extends his grief over the death of the English language. The irony in this is that today, people assume slang and shorter words are killing the English language. According to Orwell, when writers, especially politicians, use an extensive amount of language, they lose are meaning in what they are trying to say.
I found this very interesting, as these writers attempt to sound bright and sophisticated, but end up sounding ambiguous and unintelligible. Others may be writing in this style on purpose, as to cast a shadow over their intent and only give the public limited information.
This tends to be the strategy of politicians, who use this type of jargon to attract the most voters by talking of broad topics that many more people will tend to agree and support. What was interesting about this piece was that Orwell had a solution to reverse the downward trend that the English language is heading in. His solution involves multiple steps, which essentially cut down the amount of jargon and transforming a piece of writing from being difficult to understand to simple and coherent for all. I believe that the English language has adopted this solution since Orwell wrote this piece, but unfortunately, has gone too far once again.
Nowadays, slang and shortened words dominate the vocabulary of many of our youth, causing a dumbing down of our society. In particular, I found rule number two and five to be the most intriguing. In majority, my primary education teachers always enforced the idea to put use of eloquent words in our writing. So, over the years, I was molded, at least people tried to mold me, into set guide lines of escalating my vocabulary in my writing. He builds up all of this excerpt for the reader to follow all of his rules of writing, if that reader wants to be an effective writer. This is how the writer Christopher Hitchens interpreted the face 1 :.
A slightly tall, angular, shy, but not unconfident Englishman, with a hollow-cheek look. A rather dolorous look in some ways, a rather solemn look. But there is a final element of pessimism to it, as well as, I think, some of the hard-to-understand handsomeness for which we English people are so rightly famed. The man in the photograph, Eric Arthur Blair — , was a novelist, essayist, journalist, critic, and, most importantly, an exemplary human being. He exited the womb English but entered the grave an outspoken citizen of Earth.
Blair was born in Bengal, wrote his first articles in French, worked as a police officer in Burma, and settled in England. He is best known for his novels Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm , both of which he wrote under a pen name with which you may be more familiar: George Orwell. Orwell stands out from the other great writers of the 20th century because of his political awareness and opposition to totalitarianism, Stalinism, fascism, and social injustice.
But what makes Orwell stand out from the other great humanists of the 20th century, and why he should matter to you, is the way he took that stubborn personality of his and used it to tackle many of his own despotic and prejudicial inclinations. Hitchens expands:. By teaching himself in theory and practice, some of the teaching being rather pedantic, he became a great humanist. Even now, sixty-five years after his death, his work seems just as, if not more, relevant. Orwell goes on to explain:. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.
If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration…. Orwell describes this effect in his essay:.
And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning himself into a machine.
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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. Emotional states are contagious. Charismatic speakers like Martin Luther King, Jr. From this perspective then, it makes sense that a politician who wants to do the opposite — who seeks to elicit unthinking conformity from his audience — would make himself mindless by mindlessly reciting words that were written for him and not by him. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, 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.
Politics and the English Language Study Guide | GradeSaver
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. Orwell had one battered typewriter and one stubborn personality — between us, we have billions. As Orwell makes clear in his essay:. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. Your words and your thoughts matter, but they matter so much more when they truly belong to you.
Politics and the English Language: George Orwell
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. But again, if I can just make this point : never mimic the style of this paragraph in your spoken or written language.
But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Good writers tend to describe the familiar in a way that sounds unfamiliar and the unfamiliar in a way that feels familiar. Not-so-good writers describe the familiar in familiar terms, making the imagery stale and mundane, and describe the unfamiliar in unfamiliar terms, making it indecipherable for the layperson.
Marcel Proust was a master of writing original images. He asked Proust for some feedback.