George Orwell Lessons in Writing, Language and Persuasion

by Franco on September 19, 2016

George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

George Orwell Politics and the English Language

Lessons in Writing, Language and Persuasion

Click here for the pdf: Politics and the English Language by George Orwell.

Whether you’re writing to attract “hearts and minds” to your political or world view, belief systems or your agenda, or you’re writing to attract a social media audience, generate more leads and close more sales online, this quick but profound lesson in communication by George Orwell, the author of the distopian classic novel, “1984” will help you.

Be sure to download and print the actual pdf from the link above and study it numerous times.

What I’ve done below is distilled some of the hard hitting parts that are actionable in your writing today.

Here are some sample thoughts from the essay:

“Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language – so the argument runs – must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the  abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

On the purpose and the causes of the decline of language and “thought control” or, “political correctness” in today’s political environment. There are specific  reasons why those in power love to control language:

“Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes.”

Tips for Better Writing:

Stay away from STALENESS of IMAGERY and LACK of PRECISION.

Avoid DYING METAPHORS. “A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image…”

Avoid PRETENTIOUS DICTION. Don’t use unnecessary words. Don’t use $25 words where a direct $2 word will do. Usually, the use of “high and mighty” words and phrases are used to give an air of culture and elegance to ugly realities or “are used to dignify the sordid process of international politics.”

Avoid MEANINGLESS WORDS. Words like romantic, values, dead, sentimental, as used in art cricism, are strictly meaningless, in the sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object, but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader.

“Many political words are similarly abused. The word Fascism has no no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable’. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way and almost always with the intent to deceive.

Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness.

Focus on using words of everyday life.”

Vivid Images are preferable to Vague Phrases.

6 Questions Good Writers Ask Themselves

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clear?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
  5. Could I put it more shortly?
  6. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

“Orthodoxy, of whatever colour, seems to demand a lifeless, imitative style.”

“The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.”

On the lazy excuse people use for “keeping out of politics”:

“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…

…languages have all deteriorated… as a result of dictatorship.”

Good language has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes one’s meaning clear.

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Good language implies using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one’s meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around.

RULES WRITERS CAN RELY ON WHEN INSTINCT FAILS:

  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 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.

One of my favorite quotes in this essay:

Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”

Yes, we’ve had our political system hijacked by cultural marxists (who rebranded themselves into “progressives”) that were trained in the subtle but profound techniques of political language. They infested the educational system, the entertainment industry, the mainstream media/news/journalism industry and they’ve been much more organized and engaged in local, state and national politics.

They’ve used language to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and they’ve gained control of language and with “political correctness” are attempting to silence dissent and demonize anyone who opposes their collectivist agenda.

Many people ask me how they can push back against them?

You push back using the same tools they used. Just reverse engineer what they’ve done and engage in teaching others. Use language and social networks. Use vivid imagery and precise messages. Organize and engage. Break free from the economic system they’ve used to cage you in.

Build your own networks.

Build your own businesses.

Trade amongst each other and build personal financial power so that you can express yourself without filter on social networks and attract others.

Direct, clear language helps attract people and helps to distribute ideas, concepts and visions others attach themselves to. Here’s an example of some direct language and vivid images that attract crowds of like-minded people quickly in today’s social networks:

And another example of direct language and vivid imagery that conveyed a thought:

And an example of words + video imagery:

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