Questions on Meaning

Topics: Doublespeak, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Euphemism Pages: 2 (517 words) Published: November 6, 2012

1. Lutz’s thesis might be stated briefly as follows: The four kinds of doublespeak all include language “that avoids or shifts responsibility, language that is at variance with its real or purported meaning” (the quotation is from par. 2). The thesis accumulates over paragraphs 2–3, with the addition of the intention to classify in paragraph 5.

2. Paragraph 4 offers the following questions: “Who is saying what to whom, under what conditions and circumstances, with what intent, and Lutz / The World of Doublespeak 85
Kennedy 10/e '09 (i-151) 12/17/07 8:48 AM Page 85with what results?” These questions locate the motivation for dishonesty that would indicate doublespeak.
3. The greatest danger is that, as in Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, doublespeak will lead to the “control of reality through language” (par. 23). Doublespeak “alter[s] our perception of reality and corrupt[s] our thinking. . . . [It] breeds suspicion, cynicism, distrust, and, ultimately, hostility” (22). It can “infect and eventually destroy the function of language” (23). 4. Lutz clearly assumes an educated reader, someone able to perceive the fundamental dishonesty in his examples. At the same time, his careful classification, scores of examples, and extensive discussion of the dangers indicate that he believes his reader probably is not sensitive to doublespeak and needs help to recognize it. QUESTIONS ON WRITING STRATEGY

1. Lutz’s principle of classification is the intention of doublespeakers. Those who use euphemisms are trying to “mislead or deceive” (par. 7) with inoffensive words. Those who use jargon seek to give their words “an air of profundity, authority, and prestige” (10). Those who use gobbledygook or bureaucratese are bent on “overwhelming the audience with words” (13). And those who use inflated language seek “to make the ordinary seem extraordinary; . . . to make the simple seem complex” (17).

2. Lutz begins by offering a definition of the...
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