The war of the words – The Economist

George Orwell, one of the godfathers of linguistic determinism, argued that political language distorts the truth. He also famously said that simple language is better at conveying meaning, accurately and directly, when compared to longer, complex words.The Economist (The war of the words) however notes that when it comes to the language of politics, catchphrases can sacrifice nuance and objectivity for memorability.

Using particular words to frame issues (such as “pro-life” in the abortion debate) can distort perception and be inherently reductive. It is not that conservatives, for example, are for life and liberals are categorically not; they simply disagree on what constitutes a life, when life begins, and which life (the mother’s or child’s) takes priority under certain circumstances. The labels suggest otherwise. These details are crucial, not least in the realm of political discourse. Conversely, being able to come up with effective slogans and words to describe your stance can make people more receptive to your ideas.


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