Saturday, December 29, 2007

On Language: Introduction

Pictured: Mitt Romney's words to live by.

Something I've touched on in some posts without addressing explicitly is abuse of language. Sloppy language is both a cause and effect of sloppy thinking. Or as George Orwell put it:

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. [emph. added]

In the On Language series I'm going to explore the abuse of language directly in the context of political speech, with plenty of examples to keep things interesting. With each post I'll focus on a particular word, phrasing or rhetorical device.

Introductions are boring so on to the first post.

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