This is one of Orwell’s most famous essays, called for a new level of clarity in the English language. Orwell believed that English had grown increasingly into “jargon-ridden” ambiguous, he believed, because “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts”. In his view, responsible political thinking would only follow from the responsible and careful use of language.
A practical set of “rules” in the essay summed up how writers could begin to instill clarity and consciousness into the English language: Orwell tried diligently to follow these rules in his own writing, and his essays and novels are renowned for their unadorned and straightforward style. • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to be seeing in print. • Never use a long word where a short one will do. • Never use passive where you can use active. • If it’s possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
• Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous (Agathocleous, 70). In his great essay, ‘Politics and the English language’, George Orwell considered the political role played by language in establishing the fundamental conditions of trust and truth. Orwell held that truth in language use established the very conditions of truth and understanding between people, qualities fundamental to the quality of people’s lives and relationships and to the ‘health’ of any civil society.
Orwell argued that language should function so as ‘not to anaesthetize a portion of one’s brain’ but that it should carry the capacity to perform or express our capacity for clear thinking. ‘To think clearly is a necessary first step towards political generation. ’ Equity, he showed how a lack of regard for truth in language permitted everything from petty tyrannies to the political catastrophes unleashed by totalitarian political formations.
Upon this basis it is possible to envisage a language practice which keeps intact, in Don Watson’s (2002: 48) words, “the threads of a common sensibility which join the people to their representatives and institutions’. This formulation speaks precisely to the current state of our public culture and to the activities we should expect of our politicians, teachers, writers, scientists and artists (Kelly, 177). Bill press, in his new book, Spin This! , offers the following succinct definition: Spin (n): something between truth and a lie.
” Offers a more nuanced approach to spin, arguing that “political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind. ” The final phrase is most appropriate to the contemporary political environment—spin as giving the appearance of solidity to pure wind. Under the current conditions, the news media, and the broadcast and cable outlets in particular, are increasingly susceptible to being spun by interest groups and their lobbyists seeking to promote their own organizational agendas.
With comparatively limited time, brought on by never-ending news cycles, and limited resources , due to significant cutbacks in staffs, travel, and support, the news media will have an increasingly difficult task of distinguishing facts from spin. For if the news media fail in discerning the difference, they are responsible for giving substance and legitimacy to pure wind. Ultimately journalists must rely on sources to provide the substance to stories and articles. Customers simply buy airtime or advertising space in order to disseminate their messages to wider audiences.
For the most part, the news media have no part in such activities, although news media outlets have increasingly sought to perform a watchdog role on political advertising, particularly in the context of elections (Rozell, 188). The idea that democratic society, clarity and directness are necessary in order to prevent our being manipulated by language is related to his picture of the ideal writer. He is the most well known proponent of the above idea. Orwell describes a fictional state-sanctioned language called Newspeak.
Its purpose was to limit people’s way of thinking about their world and their lives and to train them to think the way state wanted them to think. Orwell saw certain language practices of the literary elite as impediments to clear and honest communication. His views are developed in his 1944 essay “propaganda and demotic speech” and in his 1946 essay “politics and the English language. ” in the former, Orwell argued that the vocabulary and accent (in the case of broadcasting) of much news reporting was ineffective in communicating with the mass of the public.
In “politics and English language,” he gave recommendations for clear writing and discussed the political consequences for unclear language: “Political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless 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: this is called pacification. Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and set trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers.
There are two contemporary aspects to Orwell’s thinking on language-alarm at the ability of language to manipulate thought and a call for stylistic simplicity and sincerity. Taken together, these two aspects reflect the widespread view that clarity and simplicity enhance critical thinking and frank exchange of ideas, while needless complexity in the language is a tool of self deception or manipulation. ” Euphemism and academic language, Orwell argued, blur the meaning of facts and cover up details (Battistella, 30). CONCLUSION
‘Politics and the English language’ was intensely concerned about the decline of the standard of political rhetoric in 1946. He was also perturbed by the way jargon was used to obscure reality. “In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible,’ observed Orwell. He noted how policies like British rule of India, the Stalinist purges or the dropping of the atom on Hiroshima were justified through euphemisms and meaningless phraseology. No, doubt political rhetoric today continues to justify the indefensible.
Terms like ‘empowerment’ and ‘support’ invariably represent an invitation to bureaucratic intrusion. The word ‘choice’, especially when associated with health and education, tends to signify the absence of alternatives. The phrase “collateral damage’ serves to destruct attention from the brutal consequences of warfare on the civilian population (Furedi, 5). Works cited Agathocleous, Tanya. George Orwell: Battling Big Brother. New York: Oxford University Press US, 2000. Print. Battistella, Edwin L.
Bad language: are some words better than others? New York: Oxford University Press US, 2005. Print. Furedi, Frank. Politics of fear. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005. Print. Kelly, William. Art and humanist ideals: contemporary perspectives with artworks selected from the collection of the Archive of Humanist Art: an anthology. Victoria: Palgrave Macmillan Australia, 2003. Print. Rozell, Mark J. Media power, media politics. Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. Print.Sample Essay of Custom-Writing