Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Politics of Language

After reading Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language"
and discussing it in class, I have come to several conclusions. The first one being how smart all of you are. I thought this essay would be more troublesome reading for all of you and you proved me wrong. Your ability to draw out the main points and understand some of the complex ideas Orwell discusses amazed me. As far as what Orwell is discussing, I keep coming back to a line from Hamlet, "Brevity is the soul of wit." Of course, it isn't quite so simple, but the ideas are similar. Say what you mean, mean what you say. There is no need to flower our ideas with big words or unnecessary adjectives in an attempt to make ourselves sound smarter or worse yet, to conceal the fact we might not be saying anything at all.

Orwell's six rules are:

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

Never use a long word where a short one will do.

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

Never use the passive where you can use the active.

Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

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