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George Orwell on Politics and the English Language (1946)

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George Orwell on Politics and the English Language (1946): focus on language decadence and the relationship betw language and politics. In his opinion, modern English and any kind of political writing are full of bad habits like the use of dying metaphors (metaphors which have lost their evocative power, they have been twisted out of their original meaning and sound only as ordinary words), the elimination of simple verbs, conjunctions and prepositions (replaced by ready-made phrases padded with extra syllables which give them an appearance of profundity and sound as more euphonious but actually they are unclear, indirect, needless and banal), the use of passive voice used in preference to the active, the use of foreign expressions especially with Latin or Greek origins used to give an air of culture and elegance (rather than using Anglo-Saxon words), the recurrence of meaningless words which aren't used for their specific meaning but only because of their positive or negative appearance, like democracy, socialism, freedom, justice, patriotic, etc. In his opinion, words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way with the only intent to deceive. Writing in this way is absolutely easier because it consists in gumming together long strips of words which have been already set in order by someone else and which of course sound good, but the result is a staleness of imagery, a lack of precision, a mixture of vagueness and a sheer incompetence, actually only a pure swindle. Orwell thinks that there's a special connection betw politics and the decay of language; actually the decadence of language may be one of the cause of the political chaos. The author describes a politicians as a machine not able to think but only able to repeat this kind of phraseology and unconscious of what he is saying. Instead if a politician uses a better kind of language, he will appear as a rebel, using language in an improper way. Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful using euphemisms and vagueness because first of all it is an insincere language. Orwell says that politics itself is a mass of lies, folly, evasions and hatred. However he proposes a solution: to start changing our own habits using language in a different way and constantly being on guard against the bad usage of language. Starting from a conscious action of a minority it's possible to gradually change the attitude of everyone, avoiding the spread of bad habits by imitation. Getting rid of the bad habits, people will start thinking more clearly, and this is the first necessary step toward political regeneration. The advices Orwell gives are to communicate and tabulate thoughts as clear as possible and to let the meaning choose the word and not the other way around; more the language is direct, precise, detailed and straightforward better it is (obviously except in poetry). His "rules" are: never use a metaphor, simile or others figure of speech; never



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