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James Baldwin vs George Orwell Essay

Both James Baldwin and George Orwell are interested in understanding language as a political instrument. In his essay “If Black Isn’t a Language, Than Tell Me What Is”, James Baldwin attempts to legitimize Black English as a unique language. He argues that Black English is a valid language because of the role it plays in the lives of Black Americans. It serves as a means for blacks to control their own circumstances, define themselves, and obtain power. Baldwin justifies Black English by applying George Orwell’s argument that language is a political instrument means and proof of power to the Black experience. Baldwin argues, validates and makes language authentic. Both George Orwell and James Baldwin express their opinion that language is directly related to who a person is.

They also both state that language is a political instrument and that it is filled with word play. In “Politics and the English Language” George Orwell states that political writings are characterized by vagueness and incompetence. People rely on metaphors that have lost their meaning and are only used because the writer cannot create his own phrases. Authors no longer think of a concrete object and choose words to describe it. Orwell believed the best fix for the English language was for everyone to be aware of ready-made words and phrases, and instead use simpler words to get your meaning across to the reader. In Orwell’s opinion language is an instrument that reflects culture and evolves as culture declines, while in Baldwin’s view language emerges to fit a socialtal need. It is the connection or “disconnection” within people.


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