Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Politics and the English Language” as Want to Read:
Politics and the English Language
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Politics and the English Language

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,188 ratings  ·  105 reviews
"Politics and the English Language" (1946) is an essay by George Orwell that criticises the "ugly and inaccurate" written English of his time and examines the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of language. The essay focuses on political language, which, according to Orwell, "is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to gi ...more
ebook, 20 pages
Published 1946
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Politics and the English Language, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Politics and the English Language

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,700)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Garima

This was an insightful and relevant lesson about the usage and analysis of English language in the Political context. Orwell with his sharp wit and influential prose has given us enough food for thought to mull over. It’s possible that next time while reading a newspaper or watching news channels, you’ll find yourself forming a critique about the manipulation of facts and trivializing of important matters in today’s times.

Here are some quotes which I found particularly wonderful:

- In our time i
...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Want to be a super-intimidated goodreader? Well, then. I suggest that you consider writing a review about a brilliant novelist's essay tearing apart modern writing for all of its cliches, stylistic ostentatiousness/wordiness resulting in (sometimes intentional) vagueness, and every other linguistic foible you could ever imagine that you and I frequently (accidentally, in our case) commit. Oh, and this essay concludes with not only a detailed map of how you should be writing (bullet points and al ...more
Cecily
Note the first word of the title: politics. It's important.

The essay demonstrates how politicians use language to persuade and deceive, and conversely, how to write factual information in a way that is honest and clear.

There are memorable examples and some good advice.

Unfortunately, many people focus on five of the six rules near the end and try to apply them regardless of context. That was not Orwell's intention, which is why he didn't follow them slavishly in his own writing - including this
...more
Nisreen
One of the greatest essays I have ever read about the relation between language and politics. A must-read for writers, and any one interested in deconstructing political discourse.
Orwell's precise, clear and simple language is an example of how theoretical and political discourse should be rather than the meaningless and pretentious endless formations of misused jargon we encounter nowadays in newspapers and books.
Ken Moten
Dec 16, 2013 Ken Moten rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: College students; Goodreads long-form reviewers; people who need to know why a thesaurus is useful
Before I get to Orwell and the essay, I must do something I never thought I would do--quote the Leviathan: With Selected Variants from the Latin Edition of 1668 in a positive manner:

"Special uses of speech are these: first, to register what by cogitation we find to be the cause of anything, present or past; and what we find things present or past may produce, or effect; which, in sum, is acquiring of arts. Secondly, to show to others that knowledge which we have attained; which is to counsel an
...more
Carlo
Jul 08, 2011 Carlo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Carlo by: Laura
Orwell describes how language can affect thought. The essay is full of examples about how vague expressions convey much more unclear meanings than "simple" expressions, and how frequently used phrases can even do the thinking for you.

I believe what Orwell is talking about is true for more than just politics and for more than just the English language. Fictional and non-fictional writings are also suffering from the use of bad language. The two languages that I speak fluently (i.e. Armenian and
...more
Andrew Anony
“Politics and the English Language” is an essay written by the novelist George Orwell and published in 1946. It criticizes the written English of his time. Orwell argues for a writing style that is plain and transparent. The most important thing in writing is to make one’s meaning clear.

Orwell brings up numerous problems that plague writers’ works. The most important of these issues is the use of canned phrases. Many writers do not take the time to craft new sentences with select words that spec
...more
Lisa
You know when you stumble onto a passage in writing that articulates your thoughts for you better than you are able? In fact, helps those thoughts to grow to adult height? This essay was one of those for me, in its entirety.

It discusses our chronic lack of clarity in writing and the muddled and vague thinking unclarity props up. Now working in development, the essay feels like some combination of vaccination, antidote and prescription sunglasses.

An excerpt:
"Now that I have made this catalogue
...more
Will Vousden
An entertaining and eloquent polemic over the declining quality of people's use of English. He cuttingly and wittily takes apart the "problems" with modern English through selected examples and parodies of his own.

He is especially offended by insincerity (obscured by wordy and opaque turns of speech in which all meaning is lost) and laziness in writing (in resorting to pre-fabricated phrases and worn-out metaphors that are chosen for convenience rather than aptness). He goes on to argue that the
...more
Mark Rice
Don't be put off by the word 'politics' in the title. This guide deals with language - spoken or written - and how to express oneself clearly in words. Orwell's rules of writing are as relevant today as they were when he wrote them, perhaps even more so in this age of grammatical vandalism. Using examples of vacuous political writing, Orwell critically shreds them, driving home the importance of clarity and specificity in language. To make his points, Orwell critiques shambolic political prose, ...more
Jonathan
Orwell read my mind with this one. I have always hated political jargon for its vagueness. Orwell's idea of precise diction also applies to other fields. Diction is the only reason that we can't reach an agreement in fields like natural philosophy and economics. I don't like all of his work, but this was one of the best essays that I've ever read.
Barry Pierce
Mar 03, 2014 Barry Pierce rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Orwell
Recommended to Barry by: Sanne
Orwell is a man after my own heart. This essay is basically about people using the English language incorrectly and why all political writing is bad, plus, a review of Mein Kampf! Orwell's stance on the English language is the same as mine, the language is fine the way it is, stop changing it! However, I do disagree with Orwell on one thing. Orwell states that one should should never use complicated words. He says that if you think if writing a big, complicated word but there is a plain simple E ...more
Fergus Ray murray
The title essay here is the one piece of writing that I most want everybody in the world to read. The weasel-wording and deliberate distortions of today's politicians, news media and adverts are just as poisonous as they were in Orwell's day. While their techniques are more sophisticated than ever, the underlying tactics are still very much the same as those Orwell tears apart here. As long as people fail to arm themselves against these things, democracy can never run smoothly.

I also rate 'Why I
...more
Rebecca Xun
Read for insights and Orwell's obvious distaste for highfalutin language. He throws shade like no other.
Son of Sam Quixote
This pamphlet-sized publication contains George Orwell’s superb 1945 essay “Politics and the English Language” and his 1941 review of Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf”.

What seems at first a pedantic viewpoint of railing against bad language, grammar, and so on, like a 1940s version of Lynne Truss, becomes far more complex and thoughtful - while still being accessible to the general reader. Orwell objects to the bad use of the English language firstly as a writer himself and then moves onto a dif
...more
Erwin
Be specific. Illustrate your point. Compare these two passages.

Ecclesiastes:

I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.


Modern English:
Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate w
...more
Noor
"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one's real and one's declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish squinting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics'. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer. I should expect to find - this is a gues ...more
Rawan Almurshed
"Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude."
Si
Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

- George Orwell

As one partial to a spot of sesquipedalianism, Orwell’s essay is a particularly poignant piece of prose.

I do get big fat chufties from using fancy sounding long words, but of course logorrheic loveliness adds gravitas groundlessly.

Some delightful consonantal alliteration there, don’t you think?

As there are a million wonderfully diverse words availa
...more
Daisy
Through "Politics and the English Language", Orwell has given us an important insight as to how language could be used in a certain way to conceal the interests/political ideologies of powerful groups. It encourages us not to be more critical on how we read political language, and thus not letting yourself be manipulated by it. He succinctly outlined rules on how one should use language, which I think is quite important. Overall yet another powerful essay by Orwell.
Ahmed
"Political language has to consist of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness." In other words, modern people are interested in making language more fancy-dancy, which leads to vagueness by the use of unnecessary words and phrases, than honest which expresses the true of what one is trying to say.

The vagueness of language is not only applied on politics but also in the press and literary criticism. What Orwell trying to say is that of one has something to say, say it as simple an
...more
Rebecca
The night I started reading this, I had the most horrendous dream of communist Russia kidnapping babies with a view to turning humans into giant walking rabbit ears, as depicted in some propaganda poster they showed me (whilst they were telling me their plan - stupid villains!). The idea was that humans wouldn't have brains to think with or mouths to voice their opinions with, just ears to absorb what they were being told. Of course, we rescued the baby and I woke up shortly after a new threat e ...more
Nhatlan
Mind-opening essay. Simple and concise language. First published in 1946, the issue is still relevant to current context. George Orwell points out the corruption of thoughts and language as the cost of politic immorality. He is offended by the insincerity (the overuse of wordy and pretentious jargon to polish meaningless prose in political speeches) and the laziness (excessive use of ready-made phrases and dying metaphors that are chosen for convenience rather than efficiency) of fashionable wr ...more
Taiyesha-Duchess of Indiana
Uhhh there is no way in hell, I'm writing a review over a classic Writers essay on Why the English language is deteriorating! Read it! Be a better Writer/Reader. I doubt you will enjoy reading it. I know I wanted to gauge my eyes. However, It is thought provoking and helpful
Minh Quan Nguyen
Everyone who cares about writing in general or political writing in particular should learn by heart. This is one of greatest essays about the relation between language and thinking. In this short essay, Orwell gives so many examples about the corruption of language and how it affects thinking. My favourite example:

Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, "I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good resu
...more
that cute little red-eyed kitten
Very funny, very good, very fitting. Written in 1946 but it's at least as valid now as back then. At University, I'm using the "some might argue that..." and "it is not unthinkable..." all the bloody time and though it's annoying, it's unavoidable. It's everywhere. It's genre. It's academical vagueness. I said "unavoidable" but what do I know... maybe I should run a test and see if the higher powers - the professors - like or dislike it.

I'm not sure I read the full version, though, some of the
...more
Megan
Anyone who writes, reads, or cares about the meaning of words needs to read this. It's freely available online, so you have no excuses not to read it immediately.
Diana
Included in this pamphlet are Orwell's essays 'Politics and the English Language' and 'Review of Mein Kampf.' The first essay is longest and presents Orwell's thoughts on how poor, insincere, and fuzzy language impacts politics. I love reading Orwell and this essay is no exception. His essays and books are a testament to the power of good writing. Even when I don't agree with the ideas he is presenting (not in this essay, but in others) I find myself being persuaded to take his viewpoint because ...more
Marthese Formosa
A great essay on English and especially its use in Politics. As someone that listend to political discourse a lot and had to write a lot of assignments in that lanaugage, I get what Orwell meant. There is a lot of 'bullshitting' and he analysed how it is done.

A short great, short and clear read for anyone interested (and annoyed) with political language and English. He also gives advice on how to remedy the corrupted use of language and they are short and to the point. He also gives a lot of ex
...more
Amelia
this is basically how to write 101 and orwell spells it out simply
"1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything ou
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 89 90 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy
  • The Essential Chomsky
  • The 100 Most Pointless Things in the World
  • The Soul of Man under Socialism
  • Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses
  • The Horologicon: A Day's Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language
  • The Art of Calligraphy: A Practical Guide to the Skills and Techniques
  • A Defence of Poetry
  • Study Bible KJV - Scofield Reference Bible
  • Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality
  • Warning to the West
  • Power, Politics And Culture
  • Feeding The Mind (Collected Works Of Lewis Carroll)
  • The Arab Uprising: The Wave of Protest that Toppled the Status Quo and the Struggle for a New Middle East
  • Quack This Way
  • What's Left?
  • A World Restored: Metternich, Castlereagh and the Problems of Peace, 1812-1822
  • States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China
3706
Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary ed
...more
More about George Orwell...
1984 Animal Farm Animal Farm / 1984 Down and Out in Paris and London Homage to Catalonia

Share This Book

“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?” 398 likes
“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” 66 likes
More quotes…