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Politics and the English Language

In George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”, he discusses the recent failures in the usage of the English language. He speaks of how this careless use of words translate to carelessness in thought and that these in turn make it easier to fail in expressing one’s thoughts through words. English is not simply misused by the minority but by all people who uses it carelessly. Therefore, getting rid of such misuses is a must. The author proposes that two major faults exist in the current use of the language.

The first one is ambiguity. Here, writers let the words flow in writing without giving much thought as to how these words affect what is written. Each word has its meaning. But writers often misunderstand these meanings and use them inappropriately. This causes much ambiguity and taints the clarity of what the writer is trying to say. Instead of being able to take thoughts and opinions and put them in words, the words are simply mixed together without saying much at all. The second pitfall is disinterest in what is being written.

Instead of committing errors in expressing meaning, the authors do not even bother about the meanings of the words. They just put them together because they sound well together or because these expressions are used quite a bit in real life. Orwell gives examples of these such as using metaphors that have been used so many times that the original bite of the expression has been lost. Some which have been used without much thought to what they truly mean have become lost in translation and distorted in meaning. Another example given is the use of words to give a sense of importance and dignity to one’s writing.

Words, instead of being used as tools for expression, are used to create a false image of knowledge or authority. Some words are used in order to simply look scientific or artsy for example. The worst case of misuse however is the fact that words are no longer used to express an image, rather as tools for creating an image. There is a difference between these two. The first one has a preconceived image that is to be put into words. The second one starts with words and just finds contentment with whatever a jumbled mix of words creates.

The latter is contrary to what a language is supposed to do which is expression of one’s thoughts and opinions. These misuses are very evident in politics. In the article, the author speaks of how politics almost always misuses language. When we hear political campaigns, most of what we hear seem to be a repeated and slightly edited version of what other politicians say. This is because words are reused and recycled without much though to what is being spoken or written. Likewise, political talks often go about in answering questions in the vaguest manner available.

In order to avoid creating issues, the most ambiguous version of a speech is given for example. In the end however, one thing is clear. The source of all these is when authors and writers try to hide away what they truly mean and what they want other people to hear or read about. The author closes by putting up ideas of what the English language is all about. In short, it is about using the meanings of words in the most useful manner. If a word has been overused and its meaning lost, then we take it out. More so, it is about expression in the most understandable manner, in which simplicity takes a key role.

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