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Argue or accept

Any language at any time is prone to changes and development. Such evolution may have its pros and cons since it has power either to cause increase or decrease of language nature. After all, should the flow of thoughts be flawless and what is ‘good language’? These thorny questions concern English as well the modern variant of which makes linguists reveal the influential factors and the effects of such tendencies.

Thus, concluding from George Orwell, English language has undergone and still continues to, evolutionary turn which is marked by ‘slovenliness’, ‘imitation’, ‘ugliness’ and on the whole ‘prefabricated hen-house’. The author points out that contemporary writing is full of mental faults and badly lacks any precision and sense. He provides a number of such misusage tools among which he names dying metaphor, orators or verbal false limbs, pretentious diction and meaningless words. The scope of these ‘tricks’ makes language expression stale and vague.

Orwell mentions a dead metaphor which is actually neither an ordinary word nor a vivid one since a transferred image has lost its power as in “to fish for compliments”, “branch of government”, “to fall in love” etc. Such metaphors became trite with the time and no longer produce the effect of freshness and expressiveness. Let’s take an example “to give a hand of help” which initially did render the metaphorical meaning “to help somebody” and was really bright and fresh-colored because hand is viewed as sort of support when a person tries to console a friend. For now the phrase no longer needs the word ‘help’ as the meaning becomes clear enough for everyone. Moreover, the writer focuses on another type of metaphor which he calls ‘worn-out’ because it is not as expressive and ‘evocative’ as they previously used to be. He believes the reason why people continue to use them lies in their not willing to think of and produce new imaginary patterns. So, we still have at our disposal the phrases like Cassandra’s warning, Hercules’ labor, to sow the sand, seeds of evil etc.

The author insists that inconsistent use of metaphors is often caused by the person’s lack if not absence of understanding what he or she really wants to say. This altogether is supposed to indicate the user’s indifference in the issue. Still, a question is dubious. In my opinion, such overlapping and miscomprehension are the result of ignorance and scarce literacy that is why we watch the examples which are blurry. People just don’t thoroughly understand what these or those words mean. I think the use of even dead metaphors must be appropriate and up to a point then the reader or a listener won’t be misled as in to tow the line instead if toe the line.

Another point that the writer touches is excessive verbosity that provokes inflated speech pattern. Why not simply say for instance to “attract” for “grip one’s attention” or “conclude” for “to arrive at conclusion”? There is plenty of clear well-known ‘general-purpose verbs’ to express the same idea without needless long-chain phrases.

Surprisingly, such verbosity may entail striking and controversial gobbledygook which means “inflated, jargon-cluttered prose that fails to communicate clearly”(About.com). Thus, let’s look through some astonishing examples of words reconsidered usage that can’t but impress many of us. There was conducted a sort of survey where the participants were asked to provide situations of weird language use which totally put them out of temper. Some of the surveyed included errors in word usage, cliché, misspelling, abundance, jargon, slang into this group of oddities but there were those who were even shocked by the way their language can be reversed – the most ardent representatives of English defenders. Here are some of the cases: @ (instead of "at"), aks but not “ask”, a lot for “a lot”, decimate (to mean the total annihilation of something, rather than a tenth), mispronunciation of “definitely” which acquired the forms of definly, defaly, and definally, ex cetera instead of "et cetera", grammatically incorrect use of ‘has’ for "have," as in “there’s been two accidents”. The list of such language jeer-and-sneer application may be continued but I’m afraid I won’t endure it either! Whether such novelties are caused by fashionable twist of mind or maybe we so much lack of entertainment in our everyday hustle and bustle life that we are forced to bring jollity into language? Who knows. However, I am more than convinced that the vast set of tools a language can provide us with should be used reasonably not to spam the language at all.

Another not least amusing process of language use which Orwell discussed in his work as pretentious diction is represented by euphemism – a tool to replace offensive or disagreeable remarks or statements. The ways of how these language mean can be coined is really diverse. The role of euphemisms can be helpful if used in cases like “not too slender” for “fat”, Afro-American for “Niger” etc. taking into account ethic and political reasons or even more humoristic like to “powder one’s nose: "Where can I powder my nose?" in case of ‘restroom’, “full and frank discussion” to render the meaning of “argument” – we had a full and frank discussion with my business partner. But there are too much more mind-tangling examples as in the circumlocution (periphrasis). The actual meaning of this instrument is to ‘talk around’, that is to say something but totally hide what you have said for instance when a person wants to conceal what he or she really thinks an intricate figure of speech accismus can help which is also called the oh-you-shouldn't-have figure. To be more precise we sometimes get into situations when we are presented with a gift but you refuse as if of modesty saying ‘the gift is not necessary, a check will be quite enough’ (Figures of speech served fresh. Monday, October 10, 2005).

All in all, I am more inclined to think that there can’t be univocal assertion that modern English is really in state of decline. Many men many minds, so to my mind it is more a matter of overall literacy and erudition that signifies right or wrong language usage and relevance of these or those figures of speech, since an educated person has a wit to analyze the information he or she receives and therefore is able to decipher the hidden codes.

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