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Language and Politics

Autor:   •  July 24, 2017  •  Creative Writing  •  823 Words (4 Pages)  •  153 Views

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Language and Politics

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In "Politics and the English Language," an essay written by George Orwell, the author informs his readers of the various bad habits of writing that the human race has acquired. He shows five paragraphs from five different sources as examples of these inaccuracies, which he categorizes into four groups: dying metaphors, operators or verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, and meaningless words. The first example has “five negatives in fifty-three words”; the second suffers doesn’t make sense because of its use of mixed metaphors; the third is simply not understandable by people who aren’t psychologists; the fourth uses hackneyed phrases; and the fifth uses so many emotionally-charged words and phrases that “words and meaning have almost parted company.” Orwell argues that the English language is deteriorating due to politics, and that politicians influence and manipulate other people by means of language, which in turn has a negative impact on language itself. “Things like the continuance of British rule in India…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,” he writes. “Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.”

I would argue that Orwell exaggerates the power of language to shape social reality. For example, he writes that words such as “class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, [and] equality” exist only to deceive, and because of this, these words are abused. I believe he overstates his argument here—it’s true that the words he listed can be used to manipulate people; however, the meaning of the word “progressive,” for instance, is usually understood as a type of politics that challenges the current state of affairs. Then again, Orwell wrote this essay in 1946, when India was largely ruled by Great Britain, when people in Soviet Russia were being deported, and when Japan was still reeling from an attack that remains to this day the only use of nuclear weapons for warfare in history. Perhaps he was less trusting of writing in politics because of these events, among others that he didn’t mention in his essay.

That being said, I do agree with Orwell’s complaints about the five example passages. They are truly impossible to understand due to their jargon. If their writers had spent a little more time revising their articles and checking a dictionary, the paragraphs would be much easier to understand. I also agree with what Orwell says about politics. He writes that “in our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics.’ All issues are political issues…” In many aspects, I think that this statement is very true. A broad definition of politics is “the process

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