Politics And The Decay Of Language: Why I Write By George Orwell

1076 words - 4 pages

Popular British writer and journalist George Orwell argues in his short essay Politics and the English Language, about the prose and writing styles of the politicians and other literary individuals in his time, many of whom which relied heavily on Modern English of the time period. This type of English was dependent upon fancy terms and phrases, which were heavily used to help politicians in getting people to support their cause. He argues that the politicians and the literary figures of his time are ultimately destroying the English language, while believing they are improving it greatly. Politicians who use Modern English greatly corrupt the language as a whole by making their ideas more complex and disorganized, making their original idea unrecognizable. Orwell claims that the use of fancy words and phrases could be crippling to the foundation of the English language. With Orwell’s life experiences described in his essay Why I Write, he is able to see past the weak persuasive rhetoric used by literary figures and can strongly criticize their speech and writing styles without fear of retaliation. By using examples of other writers work and his own personal thoughts about the correct use of language, Orwell clearly argues his position of improving the flaws of the English language to make it better for all of society. His ideals can be highly understood, even in modern society where people fully believe that making their own contribution to the English language is necessary and they unknowingly begin a grammatical whirlwind that is beneficial to no one.
In his essay, Orwell argues that Modern English should be corrected extensively, stating that, “Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation,” claiming any changes made by individuals to the English language be repeated by others, which to Orwell is dangerous.(102) This would unfortunately lead to the creation of terms and phrases that will have no rational thought behind them, which will often become popular with the general population and rarely leaves the public sphere. The end result is that phrases that individuals say have vague or incomprehensible meanings. Phrases such as “Just think outside the box’, “Be yourself” and other phrases are often used for motivation, but become overused in modern society. Orwell clearly states, “A writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase (106). In this type of situation, if a person simply thought about their choice of words or quickly corrected themselves, they would be able to avoid later embarrassment by their critics.
Not only is Orwell clear to attack with the claim that Modern English will gradually decay as time progressed, but he is also able to support this by using examples of other writers’ works to prove his argument. Using short passages from other individuals helps illustrate the flaws of the English language. One such example is an essay by...

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