Politics and the English Language
George Orwell
Over 60 years ago, Orwell maintained that the English language was in a “bad way.” He asserts in his article that language evolves not necessarily from a
natural growth but instead as a tool that we use to push our own agendas. Orwell points out that we abuse this tool through vague and incompetent writing.
Below is a chart that breaks down the assertions in his essay. Your task is to analyze our language decades later and determine if it is still in a “bad way” as
Orwell puts it. Consider what we have read as well as viewed in this unit while you fill in the chart.
Orwell’s Assertion
Dying Metaphors
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. This also includes:
 Metaphors used without knowledge of
their meaning.
 Incompatible metaphors that are mixed
Operators or Verbal False Limbs
 Pad each sentence with extra syllables
which give it an appearance of symmetry.
Eliminates simple verbs. Verbs become a
phrase made up of a noun or adjective
tacked on to some general-purposes verb.
 Passive voice is used in preference to
 -ize and de- formations cut down range of
Pretentious Diction
 Words used to dress up simple statements
and give an air of scientific impartiality to
biased judgments.
 Foreign words and expressions are used to
give an air of culture and elegance.
 Always haunted by the notion that Latin
or Greek words are grander than Saxon .
Evidence from Modern Day
Effect on our Language
Meaningless Words
A writer uses words in a consciously dishonest
way with a private definition but allows the
hearers to think he means something quite
Modern writing at its worst does not consist in
picking out words for the sake of their
meaning and inventing images in order to
make the meaning clearer. It consists of
gumming together long strips of words which
have already been set in order by someone
else, and making the results presentable by
sheer humbug.
Your Observation: