George Orwell was Right

Well, on this point at least. His Politics and the English Language argues that slovenliness of language promotes foolish thoughts, and political language in particular has contributed greatly to the decline of clear expression. I think he was right. Words are chosen less and less today for the sake of their meaning.

He writes:

A man my take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided… If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous…

Did I mention he wrote this in 1946?

My apologies to whomever referred me to this piece. I would gladly provide a link if only I could remember where I saw it. Was it you?

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Jambo says:

    The Russian server the article is on seems to be down. I found a more elegant version of Orwell’s article here:

    http://www.calvinvanhoek.com/articles/2007/04/politics-english-language/

    I hope this helps (but if it looks like spam please feel free to delete).

  2. Paul Roberts says:

    Jambo,

    I agree and have (at last — sorry for the delay) update the link in the post. Thanks for the heads-up.

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