The language of politics

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7 Responses to The language of politics

  1. anilwang says:

    Carlin is always interesting, though personally I think George Orwell gave the best treatment on the language of politics in “Politics and the English Language”. ( http://blogs.ubc.ca/rmst221/files/2010/01/orwell-pol-en.pdf )

    Granted it’s not a humorous as Carlin, but it’s short, clear, and to the point. He not only touches on political speech but also academic speech as well. For instance, he translates Ecclesiastes 9:11: “I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    into modern academic English as the following:

    “Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”

    Orwell points out that this “translation” contains many more syllables but gives no concrete illustrations, as the original did, nor does it contain any vivid, arresting, images or phrases and it is a whole lot less understandable to the average person than the original.

    His six rules of political speech should be required reading for any politician and academic.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Yes. He could be funny.

  3. MrTipsNZ says:

    The very things he says are also true of the people he was speaking to – not sure if all of them got that.

  4. GypsyMom says:

    So much of this applies in the business world, as well. There are way too many promoted to high level positions that know little and do even less, but throw around similar language in order to keep up the illusion. Weird Al Yankovich’s song “Mission Statement” on his last album is about that. It brings me much comfort!

  5. juergensen says:

    For a while there I thought he was talking about Catholic bishops.

  6. PostCatholic says:

    Those of us who knew George miss him. Now that you’ve shared his thoughts on politics and language, perhaps you’ll share his equally erudite and funny observations on religion and language?

    Perhaps not.

  7. Grateful to be Catholic says:

    Words like “accompany,” “integrate,” and “discern,” can be added to his list.