Politics and the English Language
May 01, 2008
Today in The Gadfly, I write about George Orwell's claim that bad writing and bad thinking are mutually reinforcing. I focus on the most egregious cases: sentences punctuated by text-message spellings and abbreviations and plagued by rotten grammar and rampant ambiguity.
What I didn't have space to comment on are the other forms of poor writing that Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"??lambastes, many of which??appear daily on the op-ed pages of America's best newspapers. One of the??sharpest observations in??his essay is that so much writing isn't actually an assortment of words; rather, it's an assortment of hackneyed phrases that people have simply been trained to string together when the appropriate circumstances arise. A writer who follows this training doesn't make his own meaning. He instead allows boring, overused sentences to construct meaning for him.
If you haven't read "Politics and the English Language," you should really turn away from your work for 20 minutes and give it a perusal.