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Example essay english language important

Jun 5, 2018

Summary

Orwell opens by discussing the value of working against the decay of the English language. Language is a tool, he argues. Thus, if it is corroding, this is a human-controlled rather than simply natural process. Its corrosion is reversible. In clear terms, Orwell describes the cycle in which the poor use of language becomes reinforced by that poor use. He uses a clear analogy to describe this cycle, stating that “a man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks” (251). Accordingly, “foolish thoughts” are made possible by foolish language (251). As is the case with the cycle of alcoholism, the process of poor writing-poor thinking-poor writing is reversible. Intervention is possible. Clear, honest language will support clear, independent thinking, which in turn will support clear language, and so on.

He moves on to present different examples of language that reflect different habits of thinking. He selects examples from different academic texts, political pamphlets and a letter to the editor of the Tribune. While each of the examples is “ugly” in its own right (a feature he claims is fixable), each shares two features: “staleness of imagery… [and] …lack of precision” (252). As he explains, this is the result of the writer in each example either being unable to express their meaning or not caring if they accurately express themselves at all. This particular combination of features (staleness and imprecision) is, according to Orwell, “the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing” (251).

Orwell follows with a more specific list of examples of habits or tactics that writers use in order to avoid developing meaning in their prose.

The list is as follows:

“Dying metaphors” are hackneyed, familiar, unoriginal metaphors, not of the writer’s own invention. While original metaphors work by presenting the reader with a new image, dying metaphors are redundant and fail to evoke a new thought. He lists a number of familiar examples, including “toe the line” which he also notes is frequently misspelled as “tow the line” implying that the writer doesn’t even know the meaning of the metaphor they’re attempting to deploy.

“Operators, or verbal false limbs” stand in for more clear and accessible meaning. Examples are “render inoperative, militate against, prove unacceptable…” and more. These are used in the place of other verbs. The reason for this, he suggests, is mostly stylistic-rhythmic, the writer attempting to create a symmetrical sentence by filling it out with an operator. Other examples of this are the use of passive voice in place of active and the replacement of simple conjunctions with complex phrases such as, “with respect to; having regard to…” (253).

"Pretentious diction." This is an important target in Orwell’s broader critique. Use of pretentious diction (of which he gives a long list of examples) has specific political functions. Certain pretentious words aim to stand in for scientific objectivity. Pretentious adjectives are used to turn ugly international political processes into something sophisticated or to glorify war. Foreign words replace familiar English words as a way of giving an air of sophistication. He argues that one reason that political writers resort to the use of foreign words is because it’s easier than finding an accurate English word. Pretentious diction, he suggest, is mostly caused by laziness and its effect ultimately muddies the writer’s meaning.

Meaningless words. He lists a number of words often used in art history writing and other disciplines that, he says, are ultimately meaningless. But his main targets in this section are political words such as fascism used as a general term to refer to something bad and therefore rendered meaningless, and democracy used as a reference for good politics and therefore deployed by everyone to favorably label the given regime that they’re defending. He shows how other examples lead to a general sloppiness and vagueness, by which writers avoid committing to the meaning of their sentences. Orwell develops a sample of this, paraphrasing a passage from Ecclesiastes by using strikingly abstract language to show the evasive effect of modern language.

He summarizes this section with a list of points that he says a “scrupulous writer in every sentence will ask himself…” (255).

Analysis

In the opening of his essay Orwell establishes his view of the English language as an instrument. This is arguably one of the most foundational concepts for the essay, yet the symbol is not one that he returns to or directly develops. How language works as an instrument, or what kind of instrument it is, seems a vital question to consider. An instrument may easily be reduced to a fixed or concrete image of a tool or a single-use device, but for language it might seem more logical to imagine it as something malleable and flexible or indeed, musical. This view would also be consistent with Orwell’s discussion of the possibility of manipulating language as well as it discordant, ugly, or persuasive resonances. Reconsidering and developing his meaning of the concept “instrument” feels necessary for a full appreciation of the essay that follow.

Related to this is the idea that Orwell of course dismisses—that language is a “natural growth,” whose apparent decline is natural and thus inevitable. The implicit assumption at the basis of that view is that evolution is degenerate or negative—that the experiences of the past are better, higher, purer. Accordingly, archaic language would also be purer. Orwell’s rejection of this is important to his argument, yet it is remarkably understated. Where a conservative critique of language might evaluate its “corruptions” in relation to an idea of pure origins and evolutionary degeneration, Orwell’s idea of “corruption” is markedly different.

As he lays out his analysis of corrupt language, the politics of his topic become apparent. The connection between thought and language is the place where he focuses. His argument isn’t that there’s some correct or pure form of language that writers should use; it’s that they need to have full agency in the way that they use language. He shows ways that language is produced, seemingly without the writer thinking about how or why they are using it. That disconnection is how language becomes corrupted. Political writers unthinkingly repeat familiar patterns, use set phrases and make their language sound a certain way rather than use language to deliver a specific intended meaning. He illustrates a process of pantomiming, mimicking or something essentially analogous to baby talk. When writers use dead metaphors, verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, or meaningless words they seem to do so because they are playing at meaning something rather than actually meaning it. Corruption happens here: when the connection between language and meaning is broken.

Orwell's list of habits to avoid is not intended to be comprehensive, yet it certainly isn't arbitrary. The selected examples he provides reveal aspects of his own political position. It's not by accident that Orwell uses "toe the line" as an example of a dying metaphor. This specific example is a politically charged one, most commonly a reference to those who unthinkingly conform to a party line. Orwell thus uses an example of a dead metaphor that's intended to refer to the very behavior he despises. His essay is at once a critique of those who "toe the line" and those who use terms like "toe the line." With this example, he simultaneously hints at the kind of politics he's opposes, while showing the way that mindless writing is connected to that kind of politics. On top of this, he also subtly demonstrates his ability to use new language. Never once, while analyzing the political writers he despises, does he say that he can't stand those who simply "toe the line."

His issue with pretentious diction reveals more of his politics by its very name. Throughout the essay we come to understand that Orwell is opposed to the politics of pretentiousness in general. He's against the dishonesty of performing relevance, importance or complexity where actual relevance, importance, complexity don't exist. But his critique of pretentious diction also seems a thinly veiled critique of imperialist diction. As he says, one of the main effects of pretentious diction is to glorify war. One thing that he is certainly politically opposed to here, is the dressing up of the violence of colonialism.

A very important aspect of his political irony is revealed in his discussion of meaningless words. It's not by coincidence that his examples of meaningless words are two of the most weighted political words in modern history: fascism and democracy. To call these meaningless words may seem like pure irony; but this tone is essential to Orwell's politics. He questions the sincerity of other political writers, arguing that their terms are simply meaningless.

Why Learning English is Important

Learning English
A lot of international students come to America to learn English. Learning English is important because it is the most common language in the world. Almost 60% people in the world use English regularly. Learning English is very important because it improves one’s chance of getting a good job, helps one communicate in foreign countries, and broadens one’s social networking.

First, learning English improves the chance of getting a good job. Companies which deal with international clients and suppliers rely on English-speaking employees to interpret for them with the day-to-day operations. The requirements for the position consists the ability to speak English. Therefore, learning English improves one’s chance of getting this position.

Secondly, people who understand English can travel much more countries by themselves than people who do not speak English. A lot of countries are using English as their main sub-language, and there are multiple simple English phrases spread around the world. Even if one enters countries whose main languages do not include English, one would probably see signs such as “OK”, “Yes”, and “No.” Understanding English helps tremendously when traveling because one can communicate and understand better.

Finally, learning English broadens one’s social networking. For example, people who speak English have a better chance at being accepted into training programs or colleges in English-speaking countries. They can make friends easier if they know English. They can also make friends all around the world just by using instant messengers online. Knowing English broadens one’s social networking because they can communicate with people around the world.

In conclusion, learning English is necessary today. English is the most common language in the world. Knowing English improves one’s chance at getting a good job. One has a better chance at getting the job than the one who doesn’t. Moreover, Knowing English helps one... Continue Reading

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Learning EnglishA lot of international students come to America to learn English. Learning English is important because it is the most common language in the world. Almost 60% people in the world use English regularly. Learning English is very important because it improves one’s chance of getting a good job, helps one communicate in foreign countries, and broadens one’s social networking.First, learning English improves the chance of getting a good job. Companies which deal with international clients and suppliers rely on English-speaking employees to interpret for them with the day-to-day operations. The requirements for the position consists the ability to speak English. Therefore, learning English improves one’s chance of getting this position.Secondly, people who understand English can travel much more countries by themselves than people who do not speak English. A lot of countries are using English as their main sub-language, and there are multiple simple English phrases spread around the world. Even if one enters countries whose main languages do not include English, one would probably see signs such as “OK”, “Yes”, and “No.” Understanding English helps tremendously when traveling because one can communicate and understand better.Finally, learning English broadens one’s social networking. For example, people who speak English have a better chance at being accepted into training programs or colleges in English-speaking countries. They can make friends easier if they know English. They can also make friends all around the world just by using instant messengers online. Knowing English broadens one’s social networking because they can communicate with people around the world.In conclusion, learning English is necessary today. English is the most common language in the world. Knowing English improves one’s chance at getting a good job. One has a better chance at getting the job than the one who doesn’t. Moreover, Knowing English helps one...

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