Politics and the English Language: Essay by George Orwell

Politics and the English Language: Essay

byGeorge Orwell

Kobo ebook | November 19, 2012

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"Politics and the English Language" (1946) is an ESSAY by George Orwell criticising "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 advocates instead Plain English.

Orwell related what he believed to be a close association between bad prose and oppressive ideology:

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan, can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties.

Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenceless 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 sent trudging along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called transfer of population or rectification of frontiers. People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.
One of Orwell's major points follows:
The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.

Title:Politics and the English Language: EssayFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:November 19, 2012Publisher:Download eBooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN:9990006080865

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