1. Read the following opening paragraph from George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language": "Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a...

1. Read the following opening paragraph from George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language":

"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."

2. Summarize and paraphrase this paragraph. Please indicate which one is your summary and which one is a paraphrase .

3.Whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize, an in-text citation always follows. use MLA in-text citation.

Expert Answers
teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A summary briefly states the main points of a piece of writing. A summary of this first paragraph might be (you will want to use your own words, and the summary should be no more than one sentence): Orwell describes a helpless response to the degradation of the English language that is based on the widespread belief that languages cannot be shaped or controlled. 

A paraphrase would retell the paragraph in your own words. A paraphrase would be longer and talk in more detail about the paragraph than a summary. You could say something like the following, but, again, you will want to use your own wording: Orwell says that a common argument about language states that it is merely following collapsing social norms when it becomes debased. Most people, he argues, will shrug and say there is nothing we can do about improving language, just as we cannot bring back a quaint golden age of candles and horses and buggies. This helpless response to language comes from the underlying belief that language cannot be controlled by us.

You might go on to state that Orwell will refute this argument in the rest of his essay.

The in-text citation would normally be the author's last name and the number of the page from which the quote, paraphrase, or summary is from put in parentheses, after the quote, summary, or paraphrase. For example, if the quote were on page one, the citation would look like this "It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light" (Orwell 1). However, if the citation refers to an internet text with no page numbers, you would simply use (Orwell). If you used two or more works by Orwell, you would need to indicate which one, so you would use (Orwell, "Politics" 1) or (Orwell, "Politics").  The Owl Purdue guide to MLA, found online, offers more help. 

physics223 | Student

A summary is often a short and pithy statement or paragraph that accurately represents the central message of the work being assessed. As the topic at hand is the first paragraph of Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language," one sentence at most will accurately manifest his central thought: People who bother with English as a language feel helpless about its decline because they think that the evolution of languages cannot be controlled. 

A paraphrase, on the other hand, is a retelling, in one's own words, of the paragraph: People who bother with English as a language see that it has become degraded, but they half-believe that to act against its decline is both sentimental and obsolete, especially because they think that language evolves naturally, independent of themselves, and is not a tool that they can manipulate for their own purposes. 

The MLA citation for the paragraph of the essay posted here will be:

Orwell, George. "Politics and the English Language." eNotes Homework Help. https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/1-read-following-opening-paragraph-from-george-1016604. Accessed 29 September 2017. 

ordante | Student
In order to summarize a text, you generally want to search for the key points and, in your own words, compile them into a couple sentences. For paraphrasing, you instead want to rewrite the text in your own words, following the general flow of the ideas in the passage. A summary acknowledges the presence of the text you are summarizing (eg. "In this passage..." or "Orwell describes...") while a paraphrase is more detailed and restates the ideas of the author.
 
Summary
 
In this passage, Orwell puts forth a common argument that suggests that the English Language is declining alongside our civilization. Because of the interconnectedness of language and society, it is useless to attempt to improve the quality of language since bad language is caused by a corrupt society rather than bad writers (Orwell, "Politics" 1).
 
NOTE: It is important to understand that this entire paragraph is not Orwell's own opinion; he is primarily setting up this argument (corrupt civilization causing bad language) in order to then disrupt it and produce a potential solution later on in the piece. 
 
 
Paraphrase
 
Many believe that the quality of writing is on the decline and there is little we can do about it. It is commonly understood that our language is directly connected to our society, so as our society becomes more lavish and self-absorbed, so will our language. Because of this perceived relationship, attempting to improve the state of the English language is simply a struggle against the direction of society. In order for this argument to hold its ground, there needs to be an underlying belief that language is uncontrollable and simply responds to the state of society rather than our own desires (Orwell, "Politics" 1).