II. In his 1946 essay, Politics and Language, George Orwell addresses the stagnation and misuse of the modern English language. In particular, Orwell addresses but does not limit his discussion to the use of language in the political spectrum. Increasingly, Orwell attempts to demonstrate, written language has become unnecessarily complicated and many times insensible. In describing particular offenses such as “dying metaphors,” “operators or verbal false limbs,” “pretentious diction,” and “meaningless words” Orwell shows how the meaning of ideas and the language itself is sometimes lost in the over-the-top prose of the writer.
Orwell calls for a simpler turn to language, which doesn’t seek to necessarily eliminate particular turns of phrase or vocabulary but rather increases the precision of the words and to this extent the ideas. Instead of losing their ideas in convoluted sentences that say little and mean even less, Orwell calls on writers and politicians to express themselves with clarity and a familiarity with the language they choose to employ. III. Orwell addresses the misuse and overuse of language in political and general writing.
He shows how writing or speaking in a manner that is seeks more to impress than express, modern writing increasing lacks imagination and coherence with the message frequently being lost in the words rather than being expressed by them. 2. Orwell’s conclusion is not to eliminate the language that is misused but instead to educate the writer in the misuse and to promote clarity in writing. 3. Orwell’s reasoning behind both his argument and his conclusion appear to be a love of language.
While he admonishes overused metaphors, he presents several of his own throughout the text. He is not asking for perfect writing but rather an appreciation and an understanding of language and the ideas it is used to express. 4. N/A 5. N/A 6. Orwell presents several fallacies in his argument, chief among them being the generalization of the five examples he presents at the beginning of the essay as indicative of modern writing. Also present is a faulty causal argument that connects the insincerity of politics and ideas with this kind of writing.
However, it’s important to note that while simplifies this issue in this manner, Orwell also addresses these fallacies within his argument. He makes it clear that by dramatizing the prevalence of this type of language, he is simply attempting to better employ language to clearly express his ideas. 7. Orwell’s argument is largely based upon personal observation. There is the distinct feeling that while Orwell has support in this idea, especially when he notes the popular distaste among journalist for worn-out and uninspired metaphors.
However, Orwell’s own observations of the over-done quality of academic and political writing. 8. Arguments could be made against Orwell’s claims on language, particularly in his attacks on literary/art criticism or political literature. Literary and art critics coming from a particular school of thought could make the argument that in addressing their topics they must seek a new language to express their distinct interpretations. Politicians would make an argument against Orwell’s claims to their insincerity which they attempt to cover with language a lack of ideals or actual stance.
N/A 10. There is much information omitted from Orwell’s argument, especially the writers who have not fallen to abusing and misusing language. However, as with the fallacies of his argument, Orwell is clear in noting that he is not speaking of all but rather drawing attention through a handful of examples to a growing trend. 11. Overall, Orwell presents a strong though admittedly biased argument. That it
My value assumption allows that there is a major basis of truth in Orwell’s argument and that the commonality of the types of language he rails against are as prevalent now as it was in 1946. 13. While the personal edge to Orwell’s argument could be seen as a drawback, I believe it instead highlights the very personal nature of language and how it is meant to express rather than suppress ideas. In his essay, Orwell is advocating for this expression and a strengthening of language through proper use and clear understanding. 14. Orwell’s essay remains as valuable today as it was in 1946.
He could not have predicted and would likely be disheartened that despite his call to lingual arms that society and politicians continue to use “dying metaphors,” “operators or verbal false limbs,” “pretentious diction,” and “meaningless words. ” However, his lessons of clear, simplistically beautiful prose is as needed to today as it was 60 years ago. Politicians and regular people alike still hide behind overblown and misunderstood language, failing to understand their own words and creating ignorance as the rest of the world struggle to understand as well.