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Literature: George Orwell

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English is a language that is constantly evolving and changing with the times.
According to George Orwell, this evolution of the English language is full of
bad habits which are spread by imitation and which are leading to the general
collapse of English. This bad English is caused by various mental vices which
lead to bad writing that is vague that and lacks precision. These mental vices
include the use of dying metaphors, pretentious diction, and meaningless words.
The combination of these mental vices give Modern English a certain staleness of
imagery and lack of clarity. While a good metaphor assists an author by evoking
a visual image in the reader, “dying”metaphors that are too commonly used
can lose their vividness. For example, in an article for the Ottawa Citizen, Dan
Leeth described the landscape of the Grand Canyon as vast emptiness”, a
metaphor that has lost it’s effect on the reader due to the fact that it is
used too frequently in Modern English. Another way that a metaphor can lose
it’s effect on the reader is when it is manipulated by the author and twisted
out of context. For example, in another article, Randall Denley, speaks of the
unions and their “kangaroo courts”, a metaphor that is commonly used without
any knowledge of it’s meaning. In another article, metaphors like “His voice
thunders...” and “...taken the theater scene by storm” are too frequently
used just because the author lacks the imagination to make one up for himself, a
common problem in Modern English. The use of dying metaphors could be avoided if
writers would just take the time and trouble to make up a new metaphor for
themselves. The use of pretentious diction is probably the most prevalent mental
vice used in writings today. Author feel the need to dress up simple statements
with unnecessary words to make their sentences appear more intelligent. “ The
deserted house of worship now serves as a memorial to futile efforts.” The
author of this work used pretentious words such a “futile” in an attempt to
dress up his sentence, but end up increasing the vagueness of his work. Another
example of pretentious diction is when large, useless words are used in
sentences where it would be advantageous to use shorter more direct ones.
“Collectively, unions are outmoded organizations, more coercive and irrational
than the corporate bosses they allegedly protect workers from.” Some writers
even string series of these obscure words together to make their sentences
appear more profound. This fact is illustrated a sentence written by Jamie
Portman that contained words like “deft direction” and “performers
cavort”. Instead of using these words, the authors could use words that are
simpler to decrease the ambiguity of their work. The use of meaningless words is
another large problem with Modern English. Authors will often string words
together in long passages that are completely lacking in meaning. Instead of
giving concrete examples, a writer will just string together a bunch of words
that are basically pointless like in this paragraph: “The route to the rim
slices through an open valley that intrigues with starkness, yielding no hint
that a chasm bisects the land beyond. Dust devils dart and twist, and parched
grasses huddle in isolated clumps.” Authors using Modern English constantly
add meaningless words to sentences that are unnecessary to try and give the
sentence a feeling of symmetry. “ The show does not lampoon aspects of the pot
culture; more important, in its own skewed fashion, it is a rallying cry against
campaigns of lies and misrepresentation by people of power and influence.”
Sentences liek this are now so commonly used in English that the reader almost
expects to see them and doesnt really pay attention to what the paragraph is
actually saying. The evolution of Modern English has brought along many bad
habits and mental vices that are constantly being passed from author to author.
These very habits are what is keeping authors from thinking clearly and
expressing their thoughts in a direct way. The combination of dead metaphors,
pretentious diction, and the use of meaningless words in writing has led to a
certain vagueness in writing and to the collapse of English language.
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