CJR: The Limits of Clear Language

Nicholas Lemann had an interesting piece in last month’s Columbia Journalism Review*, in which he uses Orwell’s influential essay “Politics and the English Language” to discuss language, propaganda, and political writing.

Lehmann closes with the argument that corruption of information is now an even more frightening prospect than the corruption of language described by Orwell. He doesn’t fully develop the idea (worth an essay in its own right), and it feels bolted on. That’s a small quibble, though; the piece is well worth reading.

As a bonus the article conveniently comes with a numbing array of examples of both good and bad political argument. Mostly bad, to be honest. Just read the comments.

* Where I worked for a while in the 90s.