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Language that is either constructive, destructive or both

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Introduction

Adrian DeSilva E5X-01 Essay # 1 October 7, 2004 Society and the individual use language that is either constructive, destructive or both. Language is used as an instrument of power. This tool is used on a political stand and on a personal level as well. Three works of literature that depict this use of language include "Silence", an except from Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston, an essay by George Orwell on "Politics and the English Language", and "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan. Each piece describing the difficulties and constructive ways language is used. Silence by Maxine Hong Kingston is a memoir where she recollects her childhood days where she had a dilemma learning the English language. In Kingston's piece she explains her hardships and how she kept herself secluded from the other children because of her lacking in the English language, which becomes critical. Speech was and still is difficult for Kingston. ...read more.

Middle

George Orwell also focuses on four bad habits that are destructive in the English language. These bad habits include dying metaphors, verbal false limbs, pretentious diction, and meaningless words. Orwell elucidates that a Dying metaphor is a newly invented metaphor that is used by evoking a visual image. Orwell says that a metaphor is technically already "dead", an ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness. "... There is a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves". In Orwell's discussion on Verbal false limbs, he says that these save the trouble of using proper verbs and nouns, and adding the appearance of symmetry in sentences. Such phrases include: render inoperative, be subjected to, give rise to, make itself felt, serve the purpose of, etc., etc. The purpose is to eliminate simple verbs. ...read more.

Conclusion

This motivated her to become a creative writer. When Tan discusses the English that her mother uses, she remembers a time that it limited her perception of her mother, and she mentions that she was ashamed of it as well. "That is, because she expressed them imperfectly her thoughts were imperfect", show how language can be destructive as well. Each literary work has shown that language is both a constructive and destructive instrument of power. In Maxine Hong Kingston's piece, language was critical but it also aided her to overcome her silence. In George Orwell's essay bad habits in the English language were recognized and at the same time it advised writers not use such corrupt meaningless English. In Amy Tan's piece, her mother's "broken" English was at first to Tan embarrassing because of the imperfect English used. Although Tan uses methods of Standard English she also uses her "mother's tongue" to write her stories, making her literature easy to read which is why she is successful in her writing. Having analyzed these selections, Language is both productive and critical either personal or political. ...read more.

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