Friday, February 20, 2009

Bad English

Friday, February 20, 2009

I started the day reading an essay, Politics and the English Language, written by George Orwell. Halfway through the essay's second paragraph it dawned on me that although he wrote it in 1946, he could have been describing the present. What he wrote rings truer today than when he wrote it.

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.

And I am guilty of those bad habits as well.

2 comments:

agnes said...

Wow that's pretty amazing. Since language is a living/ever changing thing, I guess it never stops changing...

jacqueline said...

uh-oh... i can be super guilty now. :)

 
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