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Politics and the English Language: Analysis of George Orwell’s Essay Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 8th, 2020


English language, unlike other languages, is very strict in its usage. According to Taylor (4), English language has faced a lot of transformation over time. Several factors have contributed to this evolution of this language. This scholar states that this language is the second most spoken language in the world after Chinese.

Different groups of people will speak this language differently based on their place of birth and the first language. The way words are pronounced by different individuals from different parts of the world clearly demonstrates this variation. Some of the variations are so big that one may fail to understand what another speaker is saying.

This is sometimes worsened by the fact that some people consider introducing their first language into English, creating what Meyers (3) refers to as slung. This is very common in the political language. This study focuses on the works of George Orwell about the use and misuse of the language titled “Politics and the English Language.”

George Orwell has carefully analyzed the use of English language both it its written and spoken form. In this article, Orwell brings out the fact that English language is constantly deteriorating as the world globalizes. Although this is the second most spoken language in the world, it is always seen as the most important language in the world. It may be because of this reason that there has been a massive attempt by individuals from around the world to get an understanding of this language.

As civilization continues around the world, the language is getting worse with each passing day. It is of concern that the society seem to be comfortable with this distortion. Orwell laments, “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” .

He says that the society has become so accustomed to this poor language that it has become impossible to persuade them out of it. An attempt to convince people to desist from the language is like telling them to avid what is considered trendier. That is why Orwell is comparing this emerging English language to an electric light and the traditional English language to a candle.

Decline of English Language

It is a fact that as the world globalizes, there is increased number of people speaking this language. However, this does not mean that the language spoken in these areas are not Standard English.

In fact, there has been a consistent decline in the standard language. This distortion of the language may be because of some little ignorance that was ignored when they first appeared in this language. According to Orwell, the effect of a distorted language seems to be the cause of further distortion of the language. This scholar says that some individuals resign to their fate.

He says, “A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.” Orwell compares a man who uses the effect of a little failure in the English language as a reason to the deterioration of both spoken and written English. An individual will consider him or herself a failure and therefore use failure as an excuse to the deterioration of spoken English. Like a drunkard, the effect will be used to compound the whole process.

Orwell says that misuse of the language is common even in the media. He says that it is common to hear and read substandard language in media. The misuse of the language has become so serious that it is currently finding its way into the classrooms. This scholar says a number of ways in which individuals in various capacities are dodging the Standard English in their speech and writings exist.

The report by Larkin (12) supports the argument of this scholar. This scholar says that media has been one of the leading sources of distortion of the language. This scholar says that misuse of the language is common to both the media presenters and reporters, and the people they bring to the media.

This scholar brings to focus an incident that hit the headlines of many newspapers and televisions around the world. A reporter in a West African country was reporting on an accident. The reporter said, “They are in furu furu condition” to mean that the individuals spoken about were drunk. What this reporter wanted to say was that the individuals were in full full condition, which in its improved form, is still not a Standard English.

This incident was a perfect demonstration of how an effect can be a perfect cause of a phenomenon. Because this report was listened to over the radios, television and the print media, it became a common terms, almost a cliché within a very short period. Instead of saying that an individual is drunk, one would say that the individual is in full condition.

The expression ‘full condition’ in this case has been given a completely new meaning that did not exist before. This is what George Orwell is describing as a ‘verbal false limb’. They slowly get into the mainstream language and like cancer, the get accepted and steadily displace the traditional English expressions.

Politics and English Language

According to Orwell, there is a close link between language flaws and politics. In politics, there is always the pressure to impress the audience. One is always forced to use the power of word in order to convince the audience that he is the best. This shows that when such an individual is offered an opportunity, he will be able to tackle most of their problems. To do this, diction is very important. A politician will always try to show a mastery of language by using very complex and flowery language.

Simile and metaphors become very vital, and any extra word or expression that will make the sentence more flowery is always welcome. According to Orwell, “Phrases like a not unjustifiable assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose, a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one’s elbow.”

In traditional English, there is always a rule that one should avoid double negatives in a sentence. The phrase above does not observe this. The expression “not and unjustifiable” as it appears above is not a Standard English. This is because the sentence can be simplified further as justifiable. However, when people in authority make such statements, they become easily acceptable.

They always infiltrate the academic sector first. Students who consider these leaders as their role model will start using such language without the knowledge that such expressions are not standard. This clearly demonstrates the fact that there is a direct relationship between politics and the language.

According to Orwell, politics has become so entrenched in the society that “there is no such thing as keeping out of politics.” Our society is defined by politics. Orwell says that language and politics is closely connected both directly and indirectly.

Orwell laments that politics a large mass of lies, folly, evasion, and hatred. Because of the evasive nature of the language, it becomes convenient for them to come up with a language that is evasive to help hide their intention. They have to find a way of expressing statements in a way that does not reveal their real intention.

The language they use become so entrenched in the society that they become part of people. According to the report by Hitchens (17), the sentiments of Orwell are valid. Politics has redefined the way some of the phrases are made. This scholar emphasizes the elusiveness and deceitful nature of politics and politicians. This scholar says that in politics, people may be forced to say statements that they do not mean.

At times, this scholar says that politicians are found in dilemma where they have to address an issue that is considered controversial. When a politician is faced with a situation that will demand that he makes a choice between two issues, and the choice comes with some form of consequences, the politician will always try to gamble and win both factions.

To achieve this, it will force such a politician to use a language that will be pleasant to both sides. This may involve coming up with a language that will make his opinion or choice appear to appease both sides. This creates a scenario where no straightforward statements that can help express opinion of an individual exist.

Improving the Language

English as a language has become very common. A large number of people around the world speak it and many more are aspiring to know the language. Language is an important tool of communication. It is also a fact that languages also undergo evolution that may make them change in a way that reflects the current society. This is especially so as technology keeps on bringing new items and phenomenon that must find a name and an expression.

However, it is important to develop the traditional language based on the emerging trends in the society. When one decides to replace the traditional expressions, words or sentences with others that crop up spontaneously, then the language will lose its meaning. An individual from the United States may not be able to communicate with another from Britain because the two speak different languages while still claiming to speak English language.

To do this, it is important for an individual to avoid usage of similes and metaphors or other figurative languages that may be common in the media. An individual should also avoid using long words where short words can be used. Above all, one should avoid sentences that do not make sense even to themselves. This is the only way the language can be protected.

Works Cited

Bounds, Philip. Orwell and Marxism: The Political and Cultural Thinking of George Orwell. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009. Print.

Hitchens, Christopher. Why Orwell Matters. New York: Basic Books, 2003. Print.

Larkin, Emma. Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print.

Meyers, Jeffery. Orwell: Wintry Conscience of a Generation. New York: W.W.Norton, 2000. Print.

Taylor, Derrick. Orwell: The Life. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2003. Print.

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