What major argument does George Orwell use in “Politics and the English Language” in order to convince his readers that we all need to take an interest in the use of language for both oral and...

What major argument does George Orwell use in “Politics and the English Language” in order to convince his readers that we all need to take an interest in the use of language for both oral and written communication? How does “Politics” fit into his argument? 

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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George Orwell's major argument in Politics and the English Language, is that the English language has become worse as time has gone on. This article was written in 1946 and George Orwell has very strong opinions on this matter.

He states "The English language becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thought." He goes on to say "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." What does all of this mean?

Orwell believed that politicians were using these forms of bad language to trick the public into believing their way of thinking. He believed that politicians disguised their intentions behind euphemisms and convoluted phrasing. What he was trying to say was that the decline of the English language, was now allowing politicians to use terms that would capture their intended audience, thus leading to more votes.

Orwell gave six remedies for this problem:

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

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

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

4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.

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

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

Orwell was trying to teach everyone that the simpler and more honest your words are the better the politics would be.

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