George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

Wanderley Caloni, 2018-08-26

Politics and the English Language é um texto do George Orwell sobre como escrever de forma mais clara que os confusos escritores de nossa época. A língua inglesa era o que ele estava defendendo, não contra o empobrecimento como muitos eruditos, mas contra o seu uso por si mesma, tornando a mensagem, a coisa mais importante em um texto, secundário. Ao mesmo tempo ele, que é ídolo de vários movimentos totalitários, dá umas alfinetadas tão específicas nos "revolucionários" de hoje em dia que é merecida a citação. Vamos começar:

The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies 'something not desirable'.

Sim, o uso indiscriminado das palavras gera isso, que é praticamente o único motivo das discussões sobre política na internet. Satisfeitos, corruptores da língua?

The words democracy, socialism, freedom, patriotic, realistic, justice have each of them several different meanings which cannot be reconciled with one another. In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it: consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claim that it is a democracy, and fear that they might have to stop using that word if it were tied down to any one meaning.

Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science, progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

O parágrafo seguinte é o que venho tentando evitar desde que meu amigo me recomendou este excelente texto. E de fato, se você se acostuma a ler textos contemporâneos fica mal acostumado e sai escrevendo longas linhas de texto sem sentido, mas estilisticamente bonito:

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.

Para isso é necessário se fazer algumas perguntas antes de começar a escrever:

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

Orwell também ensina como os discursos políticos são moldados para que as ações não aceitas pela sociedade se tornem magicamente como um ato de patriotismo, como matar "inimigos":

Consider for instance some comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism. He cannot say outright, 'I believe in killing off your opponents when you can get good results by doing so'. Probably, therefore, he will say something like this: 'While freely conceding that the Soviet regime exhibits certain features which the humanitarian may be inclined to deplore, we must, I think, agree that a certain curtailment of the right to political opposition is an unavoidable concomitant of transitional periods, and that the rigors which the Russian people have been called upon to undergo have been amply justified in the sphere of concrete achievement.'

Por último, uma lista de coisas a evitar:

Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. Never use a long word where a short one will do. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out. Never use the passive where you can use the active. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

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