Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Since Orwell's not alive to update Politics and the English Language, let's do it for him.

I write political opinion columns for CTNewsJunkie, and I'm also an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western CT State University. One of the pieces I assign my students who plan to write for the web is Orwell's Politics and the English Language, because it's an essay that taught me so much about good writing, politics, media literacy and critical thinking.

 When I teach my middle school and teen writers about passive voice, I urge them to listen when political and government figures speak and try to pick out instances when they use it. I'm not just teaching them how to write, I'm trying to teach them to listen to how words are used in the world around them, so they can grow up to be thoughtful, informed citizens in a healthy democracy.

As examples of "Newspeak" abound, I figured it was time to start a place to collect them. Feel free to send them along! The inspiration for starting this blog came from Pando's David Sirota:

“Look, I feel very comfortable with my decision to go to work for David Cameron,” said Mr. Messina, who flies back to London on Thursday. He said he found Mr. Cameron’s support of same-sex marriage in the face of his party’s opposition “heroic,” and called him a “real leader” on health care and climate change. He noted that Anita Dunn, Mr. Obama’s first communications director — who, like him, has been criticized by liberals for her lucrative ideological elasticity — worked for Mr. Cameron in 2010."
Oh, how Orwell would have loved that phrase. I mean, rather, hated it. But loved it as an example of couching the fact that Messina is a mercenary who'll work the person who pays the consulting fee. We'll put it right next to the Bush era gem, "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques."

 Please, send links with other examples. We can keep the INGSOC dictionary updated.