Politics and the English Language (and a random review of Mein Kampf inserted at the end) by George Orwell
A few weeks ago I wrote about language and its impact on society over time. I was informed soon after that George Orwell had written something on similar themes. Great minds think alike I suppose, though admittedly some minds lived and published their work decades earlier. That being said, I did not feel bitter that I had been ripped off and instead read what he had to say on the subject! Orwell suggests that English often lacks precision and uses stale imagery. This causes us to speak in vague and abstract terms, even to ourselves, and this leads to not saying what we mean to others as we lack the creativity to think through our words. Orwell suggests that we dress up words and phrases without thinking consciously, I am certainly guilty of this and Orwell covers himself by confessing that he has committed the faults he objects to. It’s easily done.
*This book reminded me of a ludicrous project of mine to deepen my understanding of words and develop my vocabulary through interrogating the dictionary systematically. It’s absurd and I wouldn’t recommend the process to anyone but stay tuned for a blog post about it!
The current standard of English is over complicated and unimaginative. This brief book offers tips that could easily be applied to improving your English. The advice is simple but require practice and commitment. Simplifying what you say is an excellent start in avoiding saying something that does not truly express what you mean. I wish I’d started practicing this a long time ago! Gorgeous George advocates for cutting out unnecessary words and imagery, avoiding jargon is easier said than done but awareness is a good starting point!
Mein Kampf Review
For whatever reason there is also a review of Hitler’s Mein Kampf tacked on the end. It was somewhat disappointing compared to the eloquently put discussion of language. I don’t really get why you would do it but anyone attempting to criticise Hitler seems to deem it necessary to compare him to Stalin. I was disappointed that an often impeccable Orwell need to make this comparison. It seems very lazy to throw shade at the person most responsible for stopping Hitler?? Criticise separately of course (review of Animal Farm coming soon), but t made poor old George seem a bit lost and grasping for something to say. All this being said, it did describe Adolf Hitler as having a “doglike face” which did make me laugh.