George Orwell is perhaps best known for 1984, his scathing indictment of totalitarianism. Just two months before its publishing in 1949, he published an equally biting essay about the English language.
The essay, “Politics and the English Language,” has been widely read since its publication, and for good reason. In it, Orwell eviscerates the state of language in general, but especially when it comes to politics.
His basic concern is the vagueness of modern speaking and writing, and how that obscurity shapes the public. Words, after all, have power, as he wrote in 1984: “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
Though some words have the power to corrupt one’s thinking, others can cleanse one’s thinking. The right words can purify the thoughts. Then those right thoughts train the mind to discern what is good (see Rom. 12:2).