Politics and the English Language

by

George Orwell

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Themes and Colors
The Danger of Intellectual Laziness Theme Icon
Style as a Political Issue Theme Icon
Honesty, Truth, and Concision Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Politics and the English Language, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Danger of Intellectual Laziness

In his essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell’s central point is that bad writing produces bad politics. According to Orwell, a culture full of lazily written nonsense enables governments to control citizens through deceptive messaging. This is because lazy writing leads to lazy thinking—or, rather, to a lack of critical thinking about the messages one receives. To get from bad writing to bad politics, Orwell draws a line from laziness, to nonsensical…

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Style as a Political Issue

In “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell pays careful attention to style—that is, how a person says something: the tone, syntax, flow of sentences, metaphors, and choice of words. He argues that the style in which people communicate determines the degree to which their governments can pass off lies as truths. In doing so, Orwell attempts to convince a politically minded audience that the specific way people express themselves—that is, their language itself—is inseparable from…

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Honesty, Truth, and Concision

In addition to arguing against linguistic laziness, Orwell argues specifically for a writing process that encourages concision—that is, using as few words as possible to get a point across. Indeed, two of his proposed rules for good writing include: “Never use a long word where a short one will do,” and “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” Underlining this argument is the idea that reality or facts (or…

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