Propaganda: It's here to stay
When the word ‘propaganda’ is used, negative connotations are generally brought to mind. People think of politicians using propaganda to force their agenda on others or to slander their opponent’s name as in the new election coming up between Obama and Romney. Yet is this all propaganda really is? Or is there something more that is never discussed about propaganda? This essay will be summarizing and discussing three from Orwell, Lutz , and Woolfolk about propaganda and the English language. The reader will gain a better understanding about what propaganda really is and how it is used and how to avoid getting tricked by it.
The first article by George Orwell is out of his book of 50 essays entitled “ Politics and the English Language.” George Orwell is an English journalist and novelist, who wrote such famous books as 1984 and Animal Farm. His article begins by talking about four parts of writing that are misused in the English language. The first topic discussed is dying metaphors. Orwell says, “A newly-invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image, while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead" has in effect reverted to being an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness.” If someone does not understand a metaphor because it is one that is not used anymore, it loses its effect and should not be used in writing or in propaganda (Orwell). A perfect example is the metaphor of the Hammer and the Anvil. When this metaphor is used most people think it means that the anvil gets the worst of it, when really it is the hammer that always breaks on the anvil. It is a metaphor that has lost meaning because hardly anyone uses an anvil anymore, causing this metaphor to be technically “dead”. The next subject discussed is verbal false limbs. Orwell says verbal false limbs “save the trouble of picking out appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry.” A few examples Orwell gives include our phrases ‘such as’,’to make contact with’, ‘play a leading part in’, and ‘be subjected to’. The problem is using these phrases takes out simple verbs that give meaning to a sentence and add extra fluff to them in order to sound “better” (Orwell). When writing it is important to avoid these verbal false limbs so the reader can truly understand what you are trying to say. The third item discussed is pretentious diction. Words such as ‘promote’, ‘constitute’, ‘exploit’, ‘utilize’are used to dress up simple statements and make the person saying them sound dignified. It also is used to add scientific terms to a biased judgment. It is a common trick we see in propaganda all the time. You will see such things as “It is inevitable if you elect Obama, our country will fail.” The word’ inevitable’ is an example of pretentious diction (Orwell). It is taking a scientific term and adding it to a biased opinion in order to convince the voter that voting for Obama is bad. The fourth item discussed is meaningless words. These are words that are used in which the definition of is unclear. You see this in political ads words such as fascism or socialist. These words are used, but do the readers really know what the author is trying to say by using them. Another one common in political ads is the word ‘patriotic’. Do we have a real definition of what it means to be patriotic or is that a word that is just thrown around. Orwell says that words such as these need to be used carefully and taken out of writing if unneeded. As Orwell ends this article he gives six rules of writing to avoid these crucial mistakes seen in the English language today. The rules are as follows “(1) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.(2) Never use a long word where a short one will do.(3) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.(4) Never use the passive...
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