Language plays a significant role in defining who we are. It is a method of communication in a structured and conventional way. “Language reinforces feelings of social superiority or inferiority; it creates insiders and outsiders” (p. 242) states Robert MacNeil (2012) in his article “English Belongs to Everybody”.
George Orwell’s essay, Politics and the English Language, first published in 1946, talks about some “bad habits”, which have driven the English language in the wrong direction, that is, away from communicating ideas. In his essay he quotes five passages, each from a different author, which embody the faults he is talking about. He lists dying metaphors, operators, pretentious diction, and meaningless words as things to look out for in your own writing and the writing of others (593-595). He talks about political uses of the English language. Our language has become ugly and the ugliness impedes upon communication. Ugly uses of language have been reinforced and passed down in the population “even among people who should and do know
Politics is the never ending power struggle Americans know all too well. It’s a childish game full of lies, deceit, and beating around the bush where those involved find themselves having to simultaneously put on a smile for the camera. In the writing, Politics and the English Language, the author, George Orwell, discusses why he believes politics in fact are destroying the English language. Throughout the reading, the author makes many great points; however, his tone is interpreted as extreme, and at times, he comes off as radical when defending his claim.
Language is the inevitable medium that people use as a means of communication. However, how that person uses the language that they have varies from person to person. Some view language as a persuasive political instrument and others view it as a means of expression and empowerment. In the essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin, he was able to illustrate the history of the discrimination of language and how black English is not accepted as its own language. Baldwin also shows that due to the lack of acknowledgement of black English, it lacks the power it needs to empower the people who speak it. In the essay “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell, he was able to break down language and explain how language shapes reality. Orwell expresses that he is not considering the literary use of language, but language is an instrument of expression and the promotion of cognitive deliberation and persuasion. Furthermore, both these authors agree that language is a political instrument, however, Baldwin uses this instrument to unite people and Orwell uses the instrument to persuade people.
George Orwell, the writer of many highly regarded literary works, is extremely interested in the power of language, mainly how it is abused. By analyzing two of his works, 1984 and Politics and The English Language, it is clear that Orwell is using his writing to bring awareness to the dangers of the manipulation, misuse, and decline of language. In 1984 he demonstrates how language can be used to control thought and manipulate the past. This is proven throughout the novel by examining the language of Newspeak and how it is key to controlling the totalitarian state, and how using language to alter and manipulate history can shape reality. In his essay Politics and the English Language Orwell
They wanted to talk to one another, among blacks, and not have their meaning understood. They wanted language to serve in limited ways to communicate between themselves and slaves. Language to them was a mark of civilization as well as a tool of communication. (Nathan Irvin 66)
In the civilized society that everyone lives in today, all languages and culture should be equal. That is the main idea in both Gloria Anzaldua’s essay, “How to Tame a Wild Tongue”, as well as James Baldwin’s “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”. The authors in both these texts support their argument in various ways, and in doing so, manages to effectively persuade their audience. The ways that each author approaches their argument is different in their appeals, evidence, and styles. Similarities also exist between the texts of the two authors. The rhetorical strategies that Anzaldua uses makes her argument much stronger than Baldwin’s argument.
George Orwell, in an essay from Shooting an Elephant and Other Essays titled “Politics and the English Language” (1950), argues that the English language, through a cyclical process of sloven language and foolish thought, has become “ugly and inaccurate.” He supports his argument by using expert opinion, metaphors, and historical context. Orwell’s purpose is to demonstrate the debasement of the English language in order to prompt writers to make a conscious change in their writing . He adopts an informal tone (“Look back throughout this essay, and for certain you will find that I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting against”) for writers in a time of political turnover and rising superpowers.
In James Baldwin's “If Black English Isn't a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” and George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” it is evident that both of these authors have their own interpretations, and understanding of language as a political instrument. In spite of their differences they also have a few similarities. For Baldwin language was a powerful tool giving blacks a voice, allowing them to express their uniqueness and empowering them, whereas for Orwell believed that language controlled thinking and writing. Both of these authors had different perspectives towards the topic of language but the same desires when it came to expressing their perspectives. They both believed that the powerful could use language, to control the powerlessness.
On August 20th, 1619, nearly four centuries ago, the first Africans were brought to their foreign home, America, and the implementation of systematic oppression served to eradicate their identity had begun. The inhabitants of Africa, unconsciously traded in their cultural customs such as religion beliefs, knowledge, and language for the formalities of the Western world, leading to the oppression of African people. Language and diction being one of the core building blocks of society, has become a hidden weapon in the war of Racism, as a method to oppress those seen as an “other.” Through religion, mass media, and politics, diction has become a silent weapon used to attack the Black community. In order to adequately understand the negative implications of diction, the analysis of the origins of language is necessary.
Language is the inevitable medium which people use as a means of communication. However, how that person uses the language that they have varies. Some view language as a persuasive political instrument and others view it as a means of expression and empowerment. In the essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin, he was able to illustrate the history of the discrimination of language and how Black English is not accepted as its own language. Baldwin also shows that due to the lack of acknowledgement of Black English, it lacks the power it needs to empower the people who speak it. In the essay “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell, he was able to break down language and explain how language shapes reality. Orwell states that the he is not considering the literary use of language, but language is an instrument of expression and the promotion of cognitive deliberation and persuasion. Furthermore, both these authors agree that language is a political instrument, however, Baldwin uses this instrument to unite people and Orwell uses the instrument to persuade people.
In the article by James Baldwin, “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” (1979), the author insinuates that the argument about language is not the true debate, but how language reveals the speaker. Baldwin presents this argument through examples of countries with similar languages that are completely different as well as correlations between whites and blacks. Baldwin claims that instead of focusing on the “black language”, the root of this language has been at times discarded and used against the blacks. Baldwin’s intended audience is people who do not understand the importance of language and its power to bring a group together or push a group away.
In today’s society, there are many reasons why people in the world need to know the fundamentals of using Standard English. When working in a business environment, we as employees need to know how to use Standard English to compete in the world and become successful. Many opportunities and rewards can come from learning how to use proper Standard English. There are many reasons why people should use Standard English in an office or workspace frequently, and using non-standard English can lead to many effects on your outlook as a professional.
Most dystopian novels contain themes of corruption and oppression, therefore in both ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ language is obviously used as a form of the states control, enabling dystopian leaders to remain in power by manipulating language to restrict free thought. Orwell and Atwood have utilized language as a key tool of oppression throughout their novels. The use of language is mostly repressive, language can also be seen as liberating, and used as an act of rebellion, which the state wishes to eliminate.
In the totalitarian world, which Orwell describes, language is the most significant and effective approach to maintain the rule. From Orwell’s perspective, everything including language, which is particularly powerful, belongs to political measure. In fact, language is the fundamental motivation of creating a nation or a tribe. It is also the foundation of thought because Human’s thought must rely on the language expressing. Then it could be deduced by analogy that controlling human’s language equal controlling human’s thought. Except expressing, it has the ability to build facts. The Party controls citizens’ thinking through controlling the language so that the Party applies euphemistic words to mislead public and prettify its policy. It is unimaginable that language contributes to the rule. The totalitarian utilize every language method to hold the dominant position.