George Orwell Language and Politics

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The key question we explored today was the link between Orwell’s view of the corruption of language in his essay “Politics and the English Language” and his tirade against the forces deliberately corrupting language in his dystopian novel 1984. Is there any kind of link between Orwell’s observations about the uses and abuses of language in these two central works?

So there is the question. But did we find an answer? Well I think we did edge towards an answer.

In 1984 Orwell is determined to demonstrate how the systematic erosion of a living language gradually erodes consciousness. And this is something that the powers that be (Big Brother or any totalitarian government- or indeed any dictatorial organization) are striving for.

In “Politics and the English Language” we uncovered Orwell’s deep belief in the fact that with conscious intelligence, with care, the language abused by politicians (in fact by all those who seek to promote their own ends and hoodwinck others) language can be restored to its simple, powerful purpose of revealing the truth.

So in both cases there is an agenda of pruning the language, but the motivation for this pruning is radically different in each case.


So… Blog Topics for Week 9 

Q.1 Find a short passage spoken by one of our politicians in the last week and subject it to a brief Orwellian deconstructive analysis. (Remember Orwell’s comments on the English professor’s defense of Russian totalitarianism: “A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up all the details).

Q. 2 Write a letter to either Winston or Julia commending them on their strength of character in a world of such outrageous tyranny.

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