George Orwell Politics And The English Language Analysis

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Perhaps more famous for his literary work, George Orwell should also be renowned as an astute political thinker. In his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language”, Orwell criticizes the current state of the English language, claiming modern English is full of “bad habits” According to him, such habits consist in the recurrent use of dying metaphors, pretentious diction and meaningless words. Orwell also maintains that the aforesaid habits are even more present in political language, which he characterizes as using too much “euphemism, question-begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness.” Though the essay was written post World War II - and current political language has surely matured and changed since then - Orwell’s essay offers a prudent analysis that is fairly relevant in today’s political scenario as well. One of the point’s Orwell writes about is how the use of euphemism in political speeches and writings serves the purpose of (at least attempting to) cushioning) the audience regarding injurious matters. He states the reason for the use of such euphemism is because “political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible” So when discussing arguments which might sound too brutal or too crass regarding pernicious policies, politicians, not wanting to alienate the public, choose to soften their sentences, thus using euphemisms and vagueness to do so. Orwell follows by giving specific examples, corresponding to when war is called “pacification”, and
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