Friday, November 09, 2007

George Orwell

I having completed 6 nights playing in the pit of a musical I have had plenty of reading time. Besides the paper from my new subscription, I've also memorized 100 Japanese Kanji, reviewed the 96 Hiragana & Katakana characters, and most interestingly read George Orwell's essay Politics and the English Language.

He states that ugly and inaccurate language is both a cause and effect of dishonest politics and also poor thinking. Having abused English for so long (and starting to abuse Japanese), his thoughts hit home. I often find myself using strings of words that sound good, but are quite vague and meaningless -In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that, instead of I think.

Here is a juicy bit (emphasis added):

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible...Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism., question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness. Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification... People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back of the neck...: this is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental pictures of them.


Anne Knowles said...

Notice also that politicians consistently use the passive tense. Passive tense = no responsibility taken. "The war was started..."