Garrett (garote) wrote,
Garrett
garote

Love that Orwell

In (4), the writer knows more or less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink.

I started reading this from the bottom up, because I was most interested in the short list of rules that Orwell presents at the end. I've been really into critiques lately - of movies, of scientific studies, of Miss America contestants - and now here's one of language-mangling writers and speakers from Orwell's time. The advice is excellent of course, but I also find it amusing that some of the "vast dump of flyblown metaphors" he derides have passed out of style and could actually be resurrected. "Ride roughshod" for example, or "fishing in troubled waters". ... Well, on second thought, ...

He also makes several points that I agree with but am also certain would drive my high-school teachers crazy:
"The defense of English language [...] has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a "standard English" which must never be departed from. ... It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one's meaning clear."
He's also particularly irritated by the use of foreign phrases to give "an air of culture and elegance". The question I have now is: How is this all going to work when half the population of my home state speaks Spanish? Are we really just going to keep jamming Spanish and English together until they become Spanglish, and go from there?
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