Tags: orwell

7

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Monday, July 10th, 2017

Words

I like words. I like the way they can be tethered together to produce a satisfying sentence.

Jessica likes words even more than I do (that’s why her website is called “wordridden”). She studied linguistics and she’s a translator by trade—German into English. Have a read of her post about translating Victor Klemperer to get an inkling of how much thought and care she puts into it.

Given the depth of enquiry required for a good translation, I was particularly pleased to read this remark by John Le Carré:

No wonder then that the most conscientious editors of my novels are not those for whom English is their first language, but the foreign translators who bring their relentless eye to the tautological phrase or factual inaccuracy – of which there are far too many. My German translator is particularly infuriating.

That’s from an article called Why we should learn German, but it’s really about why we should strive for clarity in our use of language:

Clear language — lucid, rational language — to a man at war with both truth and reason, is an existential threat. Clear language to such a man is a direct assault on his obfuscations, contradictions and lies. To him, it is the voice of the enemy. To him, it is fake news. Because he knows, if only intuitively, what we know to our cost: that without clear language, there is no standard of truth.

It reminds me of one of my favourite Orwell essays, Politics and the English Language:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

But however much I agree with Le Carré’s reprise of Orwell’s call for clarity, I was brought up short by this:

Every time I hear a British politician utter the fatal words, “Let me be very clear”, these days I reach for my revolver.

Le Carré’s text was part of a speech given in Berlin, where everyone would get the reference to the infamous Nazi quote—Wenn ich Kultur höre … entsichere ich meinen Browning—and I’m sure it was meant with a sly wink. But words matter.

Words are powerful. Words can be love and comfort — and words can be weapons.

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Stuart McMillen - cartoon Recombinant Records

Pitching Orwell against Huxley in an argument that is ironically shallow: it only holds up if you accept the premise that activities involving the web, television and video games are inherently “bad” and anti-social: a pathetically, narrow-minded and condescending worldview.

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

THE ORWELL PRIZE

In a similar treatment to the Pepys blog, the diary of George Orwell is being republished as a blog offset by 70 years.

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

The Future of Reading (A Play in Six Acts) [dive into mark]

A superb skewering of Kindle and just about any other attempt to make book distribution digital that involves ludicrously restrictive terms of service (or worse, DRM).

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”, 1946

A beautifully marked up and typeset copy of George Orwell's classic essay.

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Oakland Tribune - Op-Ed

Send your battered old copy of 1984 to the Oakland Tribune. When they get 537 copies, they will be sent to every member of the House of Representatives and Senate.

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005

Avant Game: the ministry of reshelving

Mobtagging: Discreetly move all copies of 1984 to a more suitable section, such as "Current Events", "Politics", "History", "True Crime", or "New Non-Fiction."