Saturday, June 4, 2011

Majority Rules

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Majority Rules

When you find that you are the majority, it is time to reform. George Orwell, Wayne C. Booth, William Golding, and Lewis Thomas are all authors that aspire to improve the English language. Each author, in their own way, stresses the importance in the written use, format, and grade of the written and spoken word. Orwell emphasizes the significance of clarity in writing and speaking. Booth indicates that a lack of enthusiasm and disinterest in the subject can have a mundane effect on the reader. Everyone is capable of thought, Golding suggests, and later indicates that there are multiple levels of thinking. Thomas implies that poor punctuation and vague wording are contributing factors in the decline of the English language.

In the 150 essay entitled, “Politics in the English Language,” George Orwell wrote that the decline of the English language was directly connected to political writing. “As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy,” suggests Orwell.(p.0) For when instinct fails, he has created a list of five rules that any writer can fall back on. These rules demand attention and dispose of prefabricated writing. By following these rules, the author is able to simplify language and be freed from any meaningless thought. “In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing,” Orwell argued. “Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a “party line””.(p.10) It is increasingly understood that the use of unnecessary or unclear words envelop important details and come off as extremely insincere. As society indicates, language is known to reflect existing social conditions. By stating examples, offering solutions, and creating possible guidelines, Orwell helps writers to realize that they can change the reinforcement of the original cause. The writers, in fact, do not have to subdue to the norm, and can write with a clear and specific purpose.

In May of 16, Wayne C. Booth gave a speech to the Illinois Council of College Teachers of English, which was entitled “Boring From Within The Art of the Freshman Essay.” Booth’s focuses are concentrated on the lack of thought that today’s youth possesses. He speaks of three reasons as to why this is a problem and gives several suggestions, which may prove to be beneficial in correcting the situation. “Our students bore us, even when they take a seemingly lively controversial tone, because they have nothing to say, to us of anybody else. If and when they discover something to say, they will no longer bore us, and our comments will no longer bore them,” Booth implies. “Having something to say, they will be interested in learning how to say it better.”(p.50) He offers three suggestions to assist in encouraging students to think or write with enthusiasm and knowledge. In the development of thought, there are no short cuts. Developing reason is the same way; each takes time and desire. Booth once reasoned that “Even the best-read student still needs endless hours and years of practice, with rigorous criticism.”(p.57) When a writer is to look at something with full attention, they are usually able to see beneath society’s surface; enabling them to be unbiased towards their writing. When students are able to write about an issue that they know and can relate to, then they begin to develop thought. This, however, does not happen until you give them a motive to think in the first place. Booth encourages teachers to relate the writing to the students. By breeding thought, the students become individuals with personal beliefs and opinions.

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In August of 161 “Thinking as a Hobby” by William Golding was published. Golding depicts that there are three levels of thinking, each of which has its own superior and appalling effects. In order to surpass each level, the current level must first be completely understood. This will improve thought as well as writing. Golding recalls, “I have dealt at length with my teachers because this was my introduction to the nature of what is commonly called thought. Through them I discovered that thought is often full of unconscious prejudice, ignorance and hypocrisy.”(p.10) So, it is to be concluded that the first people to influence thought are teachers. After this introduction to thought, it continues to progress, as does the understanding of life and human nature. “Of course, as I readily admitted, conversion of the world to my way of thinking might be difficult, since my system did away with a number of trifles, such as big business, centralized government, armies, marriage…,” maintains Golding.(p.1) It is common to see some people content with their contemporary level of thought. At the highest level of thought, it becomes easy to become aggravated by lower level thinkers. Golding replaces thought with reason. In categorizing people, he helps them to realize which level they are on and how to advance in their writing, thinking, and speaking.

In Lewis Thomas’s essay “Notes on Punctuation”, he concentrates on the expansion of language through writing. Thomas plays with the ordinary format and creates a more carefree attitude towards proper pausing. “There are no precise rules about punctuation…,” he suggests.(p.01) In fact, there are only four pronounced stops, the period, comma, semicolon, and colon. These are the only unchangeable rules. However, where all other punctuation is concerned, there is extreme flexiblility. Thomas dictates, “The greatest danger in punctuation is for poetry.”(p.0) Here, the rules are completely changed. Sometimes any punctuation at all can devastate the entire tone of the writing. Thomas’s techniques show that there can be deviation in writing. Not everything must follow a stringent format and it is tolerable to punctuate to fit your purpose. Creativity is the bases for good writing.

All good writing has a clear and distinct purpose that jumps out at you like toast from a toaster. Orwell, Booth, Golding, and Thomas all write to enhance the English language with clarity, interest, thought, and format. Each author is concerned with humanizing the written word, whether it is directed towards the teachers of America’s youth or through the simple freedom of punctuation, they all strive to create a more knowledgeable society. In doing all of this, Orwell, Booth, Golding, and Thomas saw the majority and decided to reform.

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