Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Krugman on Orwell


I imagine Bastiat would have liked Orwell too, come to think of it.

It seems so cliche to talk about how truly excellent Politics and the English Language is, but in this case I think it feels cliche because of how self-evidently true it is. I assume every single reader of this blog has had the chance to read it, but if not you should today.

It's a little silly, but I've always thought of the essay as being a companion of sorts to Strunk and White. They cover the same broad theme - good use of the English language. I like to think of an alternative title to Orwell's piece as "The Elements of Substance" to go along with "The Elements of Style".

Krugman quotes a rewriting of a portion of the King James Bible. It is sanitized English, I would say. Some people criticize technical English as doing the same thing. I disagree - technical writing has its place, but it is a very narrow place and it's a place where precision matters. If you can't write more meaningfully or more transparently for a broader audience that's a problem.

I am still not the writer I wish I was, but I feel like I'm getting better all the time.


  1. Is Zombie a "vivid metaphor?"

    1. Depends on how many zombie movies you've watched I guess.

  2. I recall first hearing of the essay in an interview of Frank Luntz during the propaganda section of my social psychology course in college. Luntz used it to justify message testing. (I think the interview was on NPR so you can imagine how friendly the audience must have been) The takeaway I got from both the interview and that essay is that communication is a form of "mind control" where you attempt, for the briefest period of time, to cause somebody's mind to think what you are trying to communicate.

  3. I agree with you, Daniel. Nothing beats Orwell, as far as I'm concerned. XD


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