Beyond 1984, Or Choosing Words According to Their Meaning
The primary purpose of language is communication. "Communicate" comes from Latin "communico" meaning "common." Through language, we are able to impart an idea and share it jointly. From Webster's 1828:
Communicate, v.t.
1. To impart; to give to another, as a partaker; to confer for joint possession; to bestow, as that which the receiver is to hold, retain.
Clarity and precision of language maximizes the ability to communicate an idea, "to confer it for joint possession." It is an effect of clear thinking and, in turn, promotes clear thinking. As I pointed out in my entry, "One Head", In Defense of Clarity, writing today (and particularly political writing), is characterized by vague expressions veiling the actual meaning. In some cases, "words and meaning have almost parted company." As George Orwell states in his 1946 essay, "Politics and the English Language,"
Now it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himslef to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier to have foolish thoughts.
In good writing, the driving force which should carry the piece and should determine your choice of words, structure, genre, conventions or any other component is purpose.
What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is surrender them.
To develop this habit, Orwell suggests six questions every writer should ask himself:
  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?
  5. Could I put it more shortly?
  6. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
When the author is successful at this, he and his audience may become joint-possessors of an idea. He is thus able to call up images, thoughts and emotions in his readers rather than numbing his readers' minds into a sort of half-understood submission. His thoughts and the thoughts of his audience will necessarily become clearer.
If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark, its stupidity will be obvious even to yourself.
Imagine if all our politicians and journalists took this advice. We would all be freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. The sheer stupidity of much of what is said would be clearly recognizable, and we would all think a little more clearly.

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