Thursday, July 30, 2009

Uses of Language

At the Hoover Institution website is an article about George Orwell, his use of language, and why the preservation and use of the English language is important. The article is titled "Orwell's Instructive Errors" and was written by Liam Julian.

The article discusses what Orwell had to say in his essays about the use of language and also how Orwell himself used language in some of his writings. One of the essays referred to is "Politics and the English Language".

These two pieces are of interest for political reasons, but also for the use of both readers and writers.

I don't agree with everything Liam Julian said. For example, in the following paragraph he seems to think right-wing extremists are the same as conservatives, which is assuredly not true.
It is, certainly, not only denizens of the left who theorize and euphemize their way out of inconvenient situations. The staunchest apologists for the worst elements of British Empire were conservatives, and now, as in Orwell’s time, it is conservatives who lean most heavily on theory to explain away indigence and squalor as inevitable in a free society and thereby rid themselves of responsibility to alleviate the burdens of the impoverished. Certainly America’s foremost racists are found on the right, and they have all sorts of theories. And yet such justifications — whether of racism, imperialism, neglect of the poor, or even creationism — currently have but parochial appeal. The left is in power now, and so it is that today’s most influential and worrisome euphemizing comes from the left.
Regarding racism in particular, it is people like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and, yes, Barack and Michelle Obama who keep racism most alive in America. They are not found on the right in America. Nonetheless, the article has some interesting things to say about the uses of language.

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