George Orwell on Writing and Language

Orwell on good writing:

  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 outright barbarous.

In “Politics and the English Language”, Orwell writes not only the above but also discusses his thoughts on the ability of language to corrupt.

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

In essence, we can derive from Orwell’s quote that the poorer the language, the poorer our thoughts become.

Food for thought:

-what are the implications of short-form communication tools like twitter and other social media tools?

-how is language used in marketing and politics to essentially manipulate our thoughts and emotions?

Tools against thought corruption (or less darkly – lazy thinking/language) :

– slow down and think

– use critical thinking

– ask questions (is this true [or more specifically: what of it is true and untrue]? what of it? it this important? what is missing? so what and then what? what does the other party gain by potentially misleading me?)

LINK – Orwell’s Essay


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