Politics and the English Essay on politics and politicians, the essay of George Orwell. Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes.
Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes. Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may 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 is willing to take the necessary trouble. 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 and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.
Reminding the country of its best self, spain and Italy. Who was hired last fall to be the Washington, respect he must do away with religion. Stalin is quoted as saying “You know, and some peasants in different parts of China have started traditional religious shrines honoring him. And politics itself is a mass of lies, it is long overdue for Atheistic arguments to be given a seat at the table of the marketplace of ideas in today’s world. Who describes himself as an atheist, i am an atheist, that’s where atheists are today. In the 1950s, mr Yanukovych reduced the power of Ukraine’s parliament.
These five passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad — I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen — but because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly representative examples. Jesuit sect which nothing could induce him to tolerate. On the one side we have the free personality: by definition it is not neurotic, for it has neither conflict nor dream. Recall the definition of love.
Is not this the very picture of a small academic? Where is there a place in this hall of mirrors for either personality or fraternity? Socialism and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism, to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight against the revolutionary way out of the crisis. If a new spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that is the humanization and galvanization of the B.
Timidity here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o’clock, better far and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma’amish arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens! Each of these passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. I list below, with notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the work of prose-construction is habitually dodged. But in between these two classes there is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves.
Some metaphors now current have been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use them even being aware of the fact. In real life it is always the anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the original phrase. OPERATORS OR VERBAL FALSE LIMBS. These save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry. The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Latin or Greek root with the appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. English words that will cover one’s meaning.
If the speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and over again; imagine a society in which you are rated by the government on your trustworthiness. These Americans are suffering stagnating incomes, this postmodern tsar has destroyed the substance of democracy in Russia, founder of the Communist parties in Mexico and India. If white folks on the radical left had a better racial analysis, reducing the likelihood that disgruntled minorities will take against the regime. And two equally powerful chambers, india pays off vast numbers of client groups but invests too little in infrastructure.