George Orwell is a philosophical author who aims to write about politics, society, and the impact of language. He has a famous book about a dystopian society, “1984.” Along with that, he has an essay called “Politics and the English Language.” Both of these works were about how society is influenced by language, mostly. Orwell, in both of these texts, relates language to politics and society by explaining how language can give people the tools to fully express their ideological and political ideas, by expanding the range of verbs that can be used to explain something. If the language is narrowed, then people will have a harder time trying to express their ideas and will be forced to conform to the use of non-descriptive words to explain their ideas. Basically, language can be the difference between freedom and control.
George Orwell’s take on the subject concerning language and the use of it the political spectrum is best shown in his book, “1984.” In the book, the dystopian society that the main character, Winston, live in is a society where the English language is slowly being cut down to the most simple words and phrases, as a way for the Big Brother, or government, of the society, known as Oceania, to rule over it. For example, according to the text, Syme, a friend of Winston who works on the dictionary for the language of Newspeak, which is the name of the government’s language, says to Winston, “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.
Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten,” (Orwell 67). Syme is trying to express how Newspeak entire purpose is to stop people from having free thought. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania due to the fact that the government wants total control of its citizens. There will no longer be any descriptive words that can be used to rebel against the party. All of the words used by politicians today, in the real world, are not in use under Newspeak. Newspeak will limit the range of thought within the citizens of Oceania, thus limiting the chance that anyone could understand a rebel’s logic and writing for rebelling. Newspeak wants to stop the language from becoming complex with words so that it will forever be in control.
The English language and politics are very closely related. George Orwell put this best in his essay, “Politics and the English Language.” Orwell states his ideas best by using imagery. For example, according to the text, “You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. The will construct your sentences for you -- even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent -- and at need, they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself. It is at this point that the special connection between politics and the debasement of language becomes clear,” (Orwell Essay). Orwell uses imagery by describing how “throwing your mind open” will allow already known phrases to just rush to your brain. Based off of this quote, the relationship between politics and the debasement, or destroying of value, becomes pretty easy to understand.
Soon enough, when words are drilled into your head so much from propaganda from governments, the word becomes numb to you. Yes, you do have all the words known from a certain slogan or motto, but you probably really do not get the true meaning behind it. For example, the U.S could engrave into the heads of its children that they always fight for liberty, and those kids will always think that liberty is great to fight for, without any real clue about the definition of liberty. They will always think that the U.S stands up for what is right without knowing what the right ways are. Language can give citizens of a country a certain sense of self - importance without really knowing that they are just goons of their own government’s propaganda.
In conclusion, the relationship between politics and language is very scary if you think about. By engraving the words of a government’s propaganda into the citizen's brains, they are able to control what you think. If a language is narrowed down to just simple words to express politician’s and citizen’s desires, then there could really be no understanding of complex ideas. In societies where slogans and mottos have been put into people’s brains to remember and live by, most people will truly understand the meaning of these mottos because the language has been so debased that everything said is just accepted, with no revolution because the citizens do not have the words to use to rebel. Orwell very best put all the ideas about politics and language in all of his works.