George Orwell’s: Politics and the English Language- Thesis and Analysis

   
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The thesis of this essay can be divided into two portions which co-exist throughout the essay and are frequently used to support each other. In the introduction of the essay Mr. Orwell’s explains that modern English writers have a multitude of malicious tendencies which have been spread throughout all contexts of writing. He offers the opinion that these tendencies can be avoided if someone takes the time to do so. This will result in political regeneration, but must be done by all English writers not exclusively professional ones. Mr. Orwell latter goes on to assert that language corrupts thought and vice versa. The slovenliness of our language allows for foolish thinking, and this foolish thinking george orwell George Orwell’s: Politics and the English Language  Thesis and Analysisallows for slovenliness in our language. This cyclical process is often difficult to break because again bad habits provide us with very convenient and elegant sounding sentence structures. However as he stated early this course is reversible by all writers if they are willing to follow his six rules.

Condense.

INTRODUCTION. The Intro of the essay asserts the notion that the English language has been disfigured by the human race and is on the residual decline as a resultant. Mr. Orwell attributes this downfall to politics and economic causes but goes on to outline his remedy to correct what he refers to as a “reversible” process. George Orwell goes on to cite passages from several prominent essays and articles, concluding on the similarities in their staleness of imagery and lack of precision. He criticizes the passages, stating that the incompetence and vagueness of such political writings desecrates correct English prose- construction.

DYING METAPHORS. George Orwell begins by explaining the difference between newly invented and “dead” metaphors. He then goes on to explain the “huge dump” of worn out metaphors that are commonly used but have lost all power to evocate the reader’s imagination. He argues that many authors use these metaphors out of context without ever knowing and pervert their original meaning without the metaphor’s creator having knowledge of it. (ex. Tow the line and Toe the line)

OPERATORS OR VERBAL FALSE LIMBS. In this paragraph Mr. Orwell rationalizes how many writers use extraneous verbs and nouns to pad sentences and create the illusion of symmetry. Instead of effectively using simple verbs, conjunctions and prepositions, many writers will abuse the convenient word placements to create lavish sounding phases such as “deserving of serious consideration”.

PRETENTIOUS DICTION. During this section Mr. Orwell discusses the recurring tendency of bad writers to glorify shorter words with longer but not necessarily correct ones. He explains that this problem is especially prevalent among scientific, political and sociological writers whose constant use of jargon and Latin terminology makes it difficult to interpret yet alone understand their writing.  This increased use of such “foreign language” results in sloppiness and vagueness.

MEANINGLESS WORDS. In this passage George Orwell makes the assertion that amongst the confusion of long literary or political critiques, the writing often becomes meaningless as a result of improper language and jargon. The use of such “meaningless” words allows them to be openly interpreted and often abused in political writing. What one might regard as Democracy, another would describe as Fascism, but neither carries a definition in this instance, but merely a positive or negative connotation. Consequently, these meaningless words often allow the reader to be deceived by the author.

Orwell’s Six Rules

1)      Do not use metaphors that you are use to reading in other texts.

2)      The use of an effective shorter word is better than longer inappropriate words.

3)      If you can remove an extraneous word from a sentence, do so accordingly.

4)      Abstain from the use of the passive tense when the active tense is available

5)      Refrain from the use of scientific jargon, and foreign words if you can find the colloquial equivalent

6)      Break these rules rather than saying anything completely monstrous.

The statement “In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues…..” (156), is in many aspects very true and I agree with what Mr. Orwell has asserted. Politics in it broadest term can be defined as the process by which groups of people make decisions. Though this is often applied to behaviour within civil governments, it can be applied to many other situations including families, friendships, school, and businesses. The discussion, argument and voting seen in our Chamber of Commons can be applied to more domestic situations in our everyday lives. For example: the verbal submission of arguments about where the class should take their next field trip is a political discussion, used by some to convince their peers to support their idea. Or the argument to persuade your parents to change their ideology on the belief of the “reckless teenager” and allow you to take on responsibility in your life and go to parties. Though these forms of politics affect a very minuscule populace and hold very little importance to outside parties, they are none the less politics. One cannot deny the overwhelming presence of politics in our society and the effect of governmental politics in our everyday lives. It is so vast, that the discussion of any sort of morals or ideology will either be is some shape or form in agreement or disagreement with current political views. Whether it is the elegant wording of a presidential campaign speech or the trivial ramblings of a juvenile demanding more allowance, neither can escape the political realm in which we all exist.

 

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St. Rosemary Educational Institution. "George Orwell’s: Politics and the English Language- Thesis and Analysis." http://schoolworkhelper.net/. St. Rosemary Educational Institution, Last Update: 2014. Web. Retrieved on: Friday 18th April 2014. http://schoolworkhelper.net/george-orwell%e2%80%99s-%e2%80%9cpolitics-and-the-english-language%e2%80%9d-thesis-and-analysis/.
4 responses to “George Orwell’s: Politics and the English Language- Thesis and Analysis”
  1. B-Chiau says:

    How does orwell feel about the use of euphemism in political language? Do you agree or disagree with him? can you think of any examples of euphemism from today’s world that act the way orwell is describing?

  2. Jim Florene says:

    In rules 2&3 George Orwell does tell writers to abstain from using extraneous words and “fluff” while writing. However he does also state in his 6th rule that is it alright to “Break these rules rather than saying anything completely monstrous.” Often a euphemism is the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt. This is the direct result of either a person’s conscious choice to do so or their inability to articulate the sentence with “milder” vocabulary. For example someone might say “To pass away” while a euphemism for it would be “to die.” I am no expert, but within the often delicately worded and diplomatic writings of politics, such euphemisms would only be see as” monstrous” in character and serve no other purpose but to offend or enrage the recipient; hence I would see Mr. Orwell rather opposed to their use in most contexts.

  3. Jules says:

    What does Orwell mean by “the effect can become a cause”?

  4. Brian Pearce says:

    Why do writers so often fall into the bad habits Orwell hated even as they are writing about them?

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