Explore The Ideas Expressed In George Orwell's Essays Through Analyzing Its Construction, Content And Language. Examine How Particular Features Of The Text Contribute To Textual Integrity.

5277 words - 21 pages

Politics and the English Language:"Politics and the English Language" (1946) is an essay by George Orwell criticizing "ugly and inaccurate" contemporary written English.Orwell said that political prose was formed "to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". Orwell believed that, because this writing was intended to hide the truth rather than express it, the language used was necessarily vague or meaningless. This unclear prose was a "contagion" which had spread even to those who had no intent to hide the truth, and it concealed a writer's thoughts from himself and others.Orwell criticises bad writing habits which spread by imitation. He argues that it is necessary for writers to get rid of these habits and think more clearly about what they say, because thinking clearly is a necessary step toward political regeneration.Orwell choses five specimen pieces of text, by Harold Laski ("five negatives in 53 words"), Lancelot Hogben (mixed metaphors) , an essay on psychology in Politics (magazine) ("simply meaningless"), a communist pamphlet ("an accumulation of stale phrases") and a reader's letter in Tribune (magazine) ("words and meaning have parted company"). From these he identifies a "catalog of swindles and perversions which he classifies as "Dying Metaphors", "Operators, or Verbal false limbs", Pretentious Diction" and "Meaningless Words". (see cliches, prolixity, peacock terms and weasel words).Orwell notes that writers of modern prose tend not to write in concrete terms but use a "pretentious latinized style", and he compares an original biblical text with a parody in "modern English" to show what he means. Writers find it is easier to gum together long strings of words than to pick words specifically for their meaning. This is particularly the case in political writing, where orthodoxy leads to a lifeless imitative style. Political speech and writing are generally in defense of the indefensible and so lead to a euphemistic inflated style. Thought corrupts language, and language can corrupt thought. Orwell suggests six elementary rules that if followed will prevent the type of faults he illustrates, although "one could keep all of them and still write bad English".Orwell makes it clear that he has "not been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing thought". He also acknowledges his own shortcomings and states "Look back through this essay and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against."Causes and characteristics of unclear writingHe related what he believed to be a close association between bad prose and inhumane ideology:" Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so." Probably, therefore, he will...

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