Orwell Questions

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ENG 4UO Study Questions for “Politics and the English Language”

Name: ___________________________

Instructions: Using your own paper, write the answer to the following questions.

1. In the opening two paragraphs, what general attitude does Orwell identify as an impediment to the improvement of language usage?

2. In the second paragraph, locate and quote Orwell’s complete thesis.

3. Show that after Orwell clarifies his thesis with a number of examples, he uses a problem/solution structure to organized the essay.

4. In the interaction between thought and language, which element does Orwell believe must predominate? Why?

5. Identify each of the four main “language tricks” Orwell lists. In a sentence for each, summarize the points he is making.

6. Another “language trick” is to write by habit, stringing together “ready-made phrases.” Why does Orwell condemn this approach?

7. What are the author’s concerns about political language?

8. Orwell asserts that “the greatest enemy of language” is insincerity? What does he mean by this?

9. Orwell shows that thought and language are inseparable. He states that “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” How does he demonstrate this interaction?

10. In Teaching language, Edward de Bono says, “Language provides the handles with which we grasp the world.” Would Orwell agree with this statement, give his assertion that “Language is an instrument for expressing and not concealing thought”? In your answer make specific reference to Orwell’s essay.

11. If you could ask George Orwell one question about his essay, what would it be?
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