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Politics & the BBC
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In his classic essay “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell observed that “in our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.” Vagueness, euphemism, abstraction, pretentiousness—these were some of the instruments of evasiveness and linguistic imprecision that Orwell catalogued and castigated in his analysis of the way “the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” By 1946, when that essay appeared, Orwell had had considerable experience of the way politics and the English language intermingled. During the war, Orwell worked for a couple of years at the BBC devising anti-Nazi propaganda. It is said that his experience there furnished him with many of the intellectual props for his masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four: the idea of Newspeak, for example, and even Room 101, home of &ldqu ...
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 31 September 2012, on page 3
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