Politics and the English Language Response
By Joe Puccio (assisted by Brett Kennedy)
The purpose and structure of George Orwells argument is concise & logical. What has been commonly blamed on natural linguistic evolution, Orwell believes is caused by the “slovenliness” of humans. I agree with his suggestion that a clear line must be drawn between ambiguity and lucidity in writing, one that does not delude the meaning of the author, but also restricts the point where comprehension is impossible. He provides numerous textual examples referring to the overuse of negatives (un- & not). Misuse of vocabulary (likely caused by the author repeating a word he heard in a similar sentence). Vague meaning, injecting unnecessary words which can cause the author to meander around the intended meaning. And finally gives an example of an author understanding the ulterior but unable to communicate the basics which renders his argument ineffective.
Orwell begins his passage by examining and interpreting the peril of modern English. He describes the self-destructive pattern of the English language, and illustrates it using this analogy: “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.” He states that basic grammar mistakes which are spread through imitation could be avoided “if one is willing to take the necessary trouble.” To put this into perspective, I have noticed on countless occasions people reversing the prepositions in “by accident” and “on purpose.” This mistake could be avoided if one was “willing to take the necessary trouble.”
His explanation of meaningless words is perfect, providing examples and MO behind the author. He continues with the reviewal of developing connotations in government styles and leads into the unfortunate and unnecessary style of writing we are using. In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that linguistic inflation is the equivalent of financial inflation. I also agree when he states euphemisms and ambiguity originated from political speech.
Finally, I support the rhetoric of his overall argument & appreciated his proper use of examples. I found the following two statements I deduced from page 6, paragraph 1-2 particularly fascinating: 1. Repetition breads apathy 2. Ambiguity is a tool for the weak minded (both open to interpretation).