George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” argues that if we use language that is simple and facile it makes us put less effort into it, this leads to us falling into bad habits of word choice and thought. This is because “language and thought are so closely linked” , says Orwell.
I agree with this due to my personal experience, since I speak more than one language and I am used to making those shortcuts; like combining languages and making my own “metaphors” which is more like copying and literally translating phrases and expressions from one of the languages to make it easier to explain my thoughts and share my opinions with others. I often receive comments like “you have an awkward or unclear expression here” and Im seriously working on that.
“..language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.” pg358 and I have to disagree on that. I feel like language is a tool which we not only can, but have to try to use in different ways. I feel like we need to explore, find and use ways that will help us speak our mind. There are so many examples when languages underwent changes and modifications in order to be what they are today, and the English language is not an exception.
Take a look at Shakespearean English for example, his influence on the language was so significant that now we cannot imagine our modern days without it, as there are thousands of words that Shakespeare invented that we still use today. An example of a word that was invented by Shakespeare comes from the 1570s, the phrase “to court” which at the time meant “to woo” soon became the word “courtship” which he used in The Merchant of Venice.
At the same time, I understand how many people won’t agree with me, and think that the language should stay “respected”. Of course, many people do not support the idea of slang for example, an informal expression more common in speech than writing that is typically used among a group of people; usually used in order to avoid longer words, by taking a shortcut. Many say it ruins the language, substituting words and even phrases for a quicker alternative.
But in general, I think that we need to recognize that language changes and modifies overtime.
I like how Orwell makes a point about dying metaphors and how many of them are outdated and are often used incorrectly by the authors completely. For example the Achilles heel, which refers to someone or something that has a weakness or a vulnerable point; as Orwell writes “Many of these are used without knowledge about the meaning” and I can somewhat agree to this as we tend to see this in more modern literature. I also grew up using this expression, mainly because my grandma uses it a lot, but the older I get, the less I hear it being used.
This connects to me using Pretentious Diction when I was younger, without ever knowing that it had a name to it. When I used to use complicated words and phrases to make me sound more “wise” like Orwell discusses in his writing.
I thought I sounded smart and cool, as fancy words like laissez faire and comme ci comme ça were coming from me at age 6. Today, I need to fully understand an expression or a word before it takes its place in my lexicon.