Prof. Joe Meyer's - LACC Poli. Sci. 1

Orwell Article and Assignment Explained.

First, you should read the Orwell article: (Politics and the English Language.)Click here for Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” You may be asked in other classes to read this classic article - or maybe in a future class. So, put a little effort into it and read it!


Give a complete APA citation for the source of your example (even if it is your mom - APA has a way to cite every source of information... look it up). Then state your example AND your translation into simple or common English ... it really is that simple.

ON CAMPUS CLASSES: Please, bring in your examples, so we can share.

Yes, George Orwell is an old English (dead) guy:

This article was written in England,1946, but he has a very relevant point to make to us, here and now. His concept of "Ugly English" can be seen everywhere in our society. People use over-used expressions, trite sayings and the like, because it's easier than thinking of a new way to say things. His most disliked habit is the "not un-" construction. If it's not unlike the train, is it like the train? But ugly English is more than laziness.

Ugly English is lying.

Ugly English is lying, posturing or using words to hide the truth. It's using words to intimidate or impress. It's using jargon, foreign phrases or techno-talk to sound like you know what your talking about. It's being lazy and using other's words and expressions without question. It's letting other people do your thinking for you by accepting their jargon or slogans.

People lie. All people lie. Many people want to lie but not be discovered so they embellish their language. They exaggerate, they focus on certain details that make them look good and ignore others that make them look bad. This, too, is Ugly English.

The Passive Voice

The easiest way to do ugly English is the "passive voice." Not: "I broke the lamp," but "The lamp got broke, mommy" Or Reagan's "Mistakes were made." Or Clinton's assertion that he didn't have sex with her, she had it with him… "It depends on what your definition of is is."

Other ways to do Ugly English:

Certain verbal tricks can be ugly English, and people use them all the time to appear to be (or know) something they are not (or do not). A couple of my favorites are: "Praetertitio." (It's a Latin word. There's tons of books and sites on "rhetoric" based on Latin and Greek, because those are the first people who wrote this stuff down, in the Western tradition.) Anyway, praetertitio is when some one says: "I could tell you more, but it's too complicated… or it would take to long, or I don't want to bore you…" Often times, the speaker doesn't know any more, but wants to appear to know more.

Another trick that is used: "at this point in time." I love you, at this point in time. At this point in time allows the speaker to change without warning or consequence.

Another rhetorical devise, called "false dilemma," or "boxing-in" is used by people around the world every minute of the day. It happens when someone gives you two choices and makes you choose. There are always more than two choices. The person making you choose wants you to believe there are only two choices as a way of controlling the outcome. They want you to feel in control but they don't want to give up control.

Ugly English wants you to FEEL not THINK.

Most ugly English is about the speaker wanting the listener to FEEL and not think. If you are busy feeling (any emotion) you can't really THINK. If the speaker can keep the listener feeling and not thinking, the listener will be happy and do what the speaker wants.

All human communication is also a power relationship.

Another great ugly English trick that politicians (and business people) use all the time. The word "Crisis." If it's a crisis the old rules might not apply. Crisis means we can change, fire people, cut pay, cut hours, cut funding…whatever it takes to "weather the crisis." Again, the listeners get to feel, while others act.

Words are weapons.

Use them wisely. Don't squander your power. "Economy of Language" means less is often better, because it's clear. Words are bricks. Sentences are walls. Paragraphs are ramparts. Put them together and your opinion is like a fort, it can withstand attack.

Use short clear sentences.

To make your point, first get a point. That means THINKING is the biggest part of the writing process. Think before you talk. If you use other people's words and expressions without thinking about them, you are giving up your thinking to some one else.

Mastery of the Jargon is Mastery of the subject matter.

All academic disciplines, careers and occupations have their own jargon words. When two "experts" communicate in jargon they both understand, that's not ugly English. It's using the jargon for what it was developed. But when an "expert" uses jargon on non-experts just to impress them, or shut them up, then that's Ugly English.

Find an example and TRANSLATE IT to common or simple English.

All you have to do is listen to others or read and you'll find an example of ugly English. Don't use advertising - they get paid to use ugly English. (How can something be both new and improved? If nothing beats your product, then why should I use it? I'll use nothing.)

So don't use advertising. It obviously is a lie.

Don't use fiction, or songs, or poems, or raps, or whatever. Use real people.


Cite your source using APA (APA has a way to cite all forms of info... your Grandma told you? they have a citation format for that? You read it on a wall? you guessed... APA has a format for every type of communication - learn and use APA - show me that you have learned and can use APA)


Please, bring in your examples, so we can share.

HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES - (excluding the APA source citation)

From the LA Times "rapper Ice-T was unconditionally released from his contract…" TRANSLATION: He has been fired.

Ex-Gov. Pete Wilson: "I've reluctantly reached the conclusion that it's just not practical to pursue the nomination." TRANSLATION: I'm not running for president.

From a radio news program: "parents are lawyering up" TRANSLATION: They are getting ready to sue.

From a tour guide at LAX: "look at the multifarious melange of travelers…" TRANSLATION: Many different kinds of people.

From a memo at work: "dysfunctional cash management" TRANSLATION: bad management/losing money.

From the back of a hand delivered invitation for a party that day: "We've been in Utah and didn't realize your invitation was misplaced." TRANSLATION: We forgot you, here it is now.

From LA Times: the IRS is worried about "customer satisfaction." TRANSLATION: we want to look like we care, but we don't.

From an insurance report about a car: "exhibited a lack of absence of paint void." TRANSLATION: Not certain, but maybe it means: the bumper had paint missing?


I hope you get the idea. If you want to send me an email with an example early, I'll let you know if you're on the right track. BUT, really, just pay attention to your world and you will see examples of ugly English everywhere. It's not that difficult, it might be fun.