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Politics and the English language

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George Orwell's central argument is that the normalization of bad writing leads to political oppression. Orwell starts with the premise that the distortion of «language» reflects a «corruption» of «civilization.» But Orwell objects to the conclusion he believes readers usually draw from this initial premise. Specifically, Orwell claims that most readers—even those who think language and politics are in a bad state—presume that language is merely a mirror of society. That is, language only reflects the state of the world. Orwell claims language doesn't just reflect the condition society. Language, he argues, also shapes society. He contends that language is both prescriptive and descriptive of civilization's decline.

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