Thursday, December 6, 2007


reading through orwell today with my brit lit students, on our last day of the semester, reminded me why i think it is important to teach people how to write.

to write well is to think well. those who do not think well end up letting others do their thinking for them.

stupidity corrupts language, as ignorance + mean-spiritedness try to mask themselves with lofty rhetoric, mundane ambiguities, question-begging pieties, + diversionary tactics.

once corrupted, language breeds even further stupidity, in turn.

the naive + the uneducated fall back on ready-made phrases + jargon they pick up from advertisers, politicians, + other propagandists.

a good idea cannot be built from a language stripped of specificity + elegance.

the people try to think, but succeed only in recycling cliches and bumper-sticker slogans +, what is worse, they repeatedly contradict themselves, most often + most distressingly when they try to express their most deeply felt beliefs.

language should be "an instrument which we shape for our own purposes," not the half-hypnotic recall of jingles lyrics + insincere campaign promises.

clear, exact, specific, concrete, emphatic, + grammatical sentences are the building blocks of intelligence + reason.

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