Politics and the English Language

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

 

 
 

This was
originally published in the April 1946 issue of the journal
Horizon

Most people
who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language
is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious
action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our
language – so the argument runs – must inevitably share
in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the
abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles
to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this
lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth
and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is
clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political
and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of
this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause,
reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in
an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink
because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the
more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that
is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate
because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language
makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that
the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English,
is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be
avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one
gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think
clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration:
so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not
the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back
to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what
I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five
specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

These five
passages have not been picked out because they are especially bad
– I could have quoted far worse if I had chosen – but
because they illustrate various of the mental vices from which we
now suffer. They are a little below the average, but are fairly
representative examples. I number them so that I can refer back
to them when necessary:

  1. I am not,
    indeed, sure whether it is not true to say that the Milton who
    once seemed not unlike a seventeenth-century Shelley had not
    become, out of an experience ever more bitter in each year,
    more alien [sic] to the founder of that Jesuit sect which nothing
    could induce him to tolerate.
    ~
    Professor Harold Laski (Essay in Freedom of Expression)

  2. Above
    all, we cannot play ducks and drakes with a native battery of
    idioms which prescribes egregious collocations of vocables as
    the Basic put up with for tolerate, or put
    at a loss for bewilder.
    ~ Professor
    Lancelot Hogben (Interglossa)

  3. On the
    one side we have the free personality: by definition it is not
    neurotic, for it has neither conflict nor dream. Its desires,
    such as they are, are transparent, for they are just what institutional
    approval keeps in the forefront of consciousness; another institutional
    pattern would alter their number and intensity; there is little
    in them that is natural, irreducible, or culturally dangerous.
    But on the other side, the social bond itself is nothing
    but the mutual reflection of these self-secure integrities.
    Recall the definition of love. Is not this the very picture
    of a small academic? Where is there a place in this hall of
    mirrors for either personality or fraternity?
    ~ Essay
    on psychology in Politics (New York)

  4. All the
    "best people" from the gentlemen’s clubs, and all
    the frantic fascist captains, united in common hatred of Socialism
    and bestial horror at the rising tide of the mass revolutionary
    movement, have turned to acts of provocation, to foul incendiarism,
    to medieval legends of poisoned wells, to legalize their own
    destruction of proletarian organizations, and rouse the agitated
    petty-bourgeoise to chauvinistic fervor on behalf of the fight
    against the revolutionary way out of the crisis.
    ~ Communist
    pamphlet

  5. If a new
    spirit is to be infused into this old country, there is one
    thorny and contentious reform which must be tackled, and that
    is the humanization and galvanization of the B.B.C. Timidity
    here will bespeak canker and atrophy of the soul. The heart
    of Britain may be sound and of strong beat, for instance, but
    the British lion’s roar at present is like that of Bottom in
    Shakespeare’s Midsummer
    Night’s Dream
    – as gentle as any sucking dove.
    A virile new Britain cannot continue indefinitely to be traduced
    in the eyes or rather ears, of the world by the effete languors
    of Langham Place, brazenly masquerading as "standard English."
    When the Voice of Britain is heard at nine o’clock, better far
    and infinitely less ludicrous to hear aitches honestly dropped
    than the present priggish, inflated, inhibited, school-ma’amish
    arch braying of blameless bashful mewing maidens!
    ~ Letter
    in Tribune

Each of these
passages has faults of its own, but, quite apart from avoidable
ugliness, two qualities are common to all of them. The first is
staleness of imagery; the other is lack of precision. The writer
either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently
says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his
words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer
incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English
prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon
as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract
and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed:
prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake
of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together
like the sections of a prefabricated henhouse. I list below, with
notes and examples, various of the tricks by means of which the
work of prose construction is habitually dodged:

Dying metaphors.
A newly invented metaphor assists thought by evoking a visual image,
while on the other hand a metaphor which is technically "dead"
(e.g. iron resolution) has in effect reverted to being an
ordinary word and can generally be used without loss of vividness.
But in between these two classes 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.
Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgel for, toe
the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with,
play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing
in troubled waters, on the order of the day, Achilles’ heel, swan
song, hotbed. Many of these are used without knowledge of their
meaning (what is a "rift," for instance?), and incompatible
metaphors are frequently mixed, a sure sign that the writer is not
interested in what he is saying. Some metaphors now current have
been twisted out of their original meaning without those who use
them even being aware of the fact. For example, toe the line
is sometimes written as tow the line. Another example is
the hammer and the anvil, now always used with the implication
that the anvil gets the worst of it. In real life it is always the
anvil that breaks the hammer, never the other way about: a writer
who stopped to think what he was saying would avoid perverting the
original phrase.

Operators
or verbal false limbs. These save the trouble of picking out
appropriate verbs and nouns, and at the same time pad each sentence
with extra syllables which give it an appearance of symmetry. Characteristic
phrases are render inoperative, militate against, make contact
with, be subjected to, give rise to, give grounds for, have the
effect of, play a leading part (role) in, make itself felt, take
effect, exhibit a tendency to, serve the purpose of, etc., etc.
The keynote is the elimination of simple verbs. Instead of being
a single word, such as break, stop, spoil, mend, kill, a
verb becomes a phrase, made up of a noun or adjective tacked
on to some general-purpose verb such as prove, serve, form, play,
render. In addition, the passive voice is wherever possible
used in preference to the active, and noun constructions are used
instead of gerunds (by examination of instead of by examining).
The range of verbs is further cut down by means of the -ize
and de- formations, and the banal statements are given an
appearance of profundity by means of the not un- formation.
Simple conjunctions and prepositions are replaced by such phrases
as with respect to, having regard to, the fact that, by dint
of, in view of, in the interests of, on the hypothesis that; and
the ends of sentences are saved by anticlimax by such resounding
commonplaces as greatly to be desired, cannot be left out of
account, a development to be expected in the near future, deserving
of serious consideration, brought to a satisfactory conclusion,
and so on and so forth.

Pretentious
diction. Words like phenomenon, element, individual (as
noun), objective, categorical, effective, virtual, basic, primary,
promote, constitute, exhibit, exploit, utilize, eliminate, liquidate,
are used to dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific
impartiality to biased judgements. Adjectives like epoch-making,
epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable,
inexorable, veritable, are used to dignify the sordid process
of international politics, while writing that aims at glorifying
war usually takes on an archaic color, its characteristic words
being: realm, throne, chariot, mailed fist, trident, sword, shield,
buckler, banner, jackboot, clarion. Foreign words and expressions
such as cul de sac, ancien regime, deus ex machina, mutatis mutandis,
status quo, gleichschaltung, weltanschauung, are used to give
an air of culture and elegance. Except for the useful abbreviations
i.e., e.g., and etc., there is no real need for any
of the hundreds of foreign phrases now current in the English language.
Bad writers, and especially scientific, political, and sociological
writers, are nearly always haunted by the notion that Latin or Greek
words are grander than Saxon ones, and unnecessary words like expedite,
ameliorate, predict, extraneous, deracinated, clandestine, subaqueous,
and hundreds of others constantly gain ground from their Anglo-Saxon
numbers.1 The jargon peculiar to Marxist
writing (hyena, hangman, cannibal, petty bourgeois, these gentry,
lackey, flunkey, mad dog, White Guard, etc.) consists largely
of words translated from Russian, German, or French; but the normal
way of coining a new word is to use Latin or Greek root with the
appropriate affix and, where necessary, the size formation. It is
often easier to make up words of this kind (deregionalize, impermissible,
extramarital, non-fragmentary and so forth) than to think up
the English words that will cover one’s meaning. The result, in
general, is an increase in slovenliness and vagueness.

Meaningless
words. In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism
and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages
which are almost completely lacking in meaning.2
Words like romantic, plastic, values, human, dead,
sentimental, natural, vitality, as used in art criticism, are
strictly meaningless, in the
sense that they not only do not point to any discoverable object,
but are hardly ever expected to do so by the reader. When one critic
writes, "The outstanding feature of Mr. X’s work is its living
quality," while another writes, "The immediately striking
thing about Mr. X’s work is its peculiar deadness," the reader
accepts this as a simple difference opinion. If words like black
and white were involved, instead of the jargon words dead
and living, he would see at once that language was being
used in an improper way. Many political words are similarly abused.
The word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it
signifies "something not desirable." 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. Words of this kind are often used in a consciously
dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private
definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite
different. Statements like Marshal Pétain was a true patriot,
The Soviet press is the freest in the world, The Catholic Church
is opposed to persecution, are almost always made with intent
to deceive. Other words used in variable meanings, in most cases
more or less dishonestly, are: class, totalitarian, science,
progressive, reactionary, bourgeois, equality.

Now that I
have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give
another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time
it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate
a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort.
Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

I returned
and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor
the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet
riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill;
but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Here it is
in modern English:

Objective
considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion
that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no
tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable
element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.

This is a parody,
but not a very gross one. Exhibit (3) above, for instance, contains
several patches of the same kind of English. It will be seen that
I have not made a full translation. The beginning and ending of
the sentence follow the original meaning fairly closely, but in
the middle the concrete illustrations – race, battle, bread
– dissolve into the vague phrases "success or failure
in competitive activities." This had to be so, because no modern
writer of the kind I am discussing – no one capable of using
phrases like "objective considerations of contemporary phenomena"
– would ever tabulate his thoughts in that precise and detailed
way. The whole tendency of modern prose is away from concreteness.
Now analyze these two sentences a little more closely. The first
contains forty-nine words but only sixty syllables, and all its
words are those of everyday life. The second contains thirty-eight
words of ninety syllables: eighteen of those words are from Latin
roots, and one from Greek. The first sentence contains six vivid
images, and only one phrase ("time and chance") that could
be called vague. The second contains not a single fresh, arresting
phrase, and in spite of its ninety syllables it gives only a shortened
version of the meaning contained in the first. Yet without a doubt
it is the second kind of sentence that is gaining ground in modern
English. I do not want to exaggerate. This kind of writing is not
yet universal, and outcrops of simplicity will occur here and there
in the worst-written page. Still, if you or I were told to write
a few lines on the uncertainty of human fortunes, we should probably
come much nearer to my imaginary sentence than to the one from Ecclesiastes.

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. It is easier – even
quicker, once you have the habit – to say In my opinion
it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I
think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have
to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with
the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally
so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing
in a hurry – when you are dictating to a stenographer, for
instance, or making a public speech – it is natural to fall
into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration
which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to
which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence
from coming down with a bump. By using stale metaphors, similes,
and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving
your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself. This
is the significance of mixed metaphors. The sole aim of a metaphor
is to call up a visual image. When these images clash – as
in The Fascist octopus has sung its swan song, the jackboot is
thrown into the melting pot – it can be taken as certain
that the writer is not seeing a mental image of the objects he is
naming; in other words he is not really thinking. Look again at
the examples I gave at the beginning of this essay. Professor Laski
(1) uses five negatives in fifty three words. One of these is superfluous,
making nonsense of the whole passage, and in addition there is the
slip – alien for akin – making further nonsense, and several
avoidable pieces of clumsiness which increase the general vagueness.
Professor Hogben (2) plays ducks and drakes with a battery which
is able to write prescriptions, and, while disapproving of the everyday
phrase put up with, is unwilling to look egregious
up in the dictionary and see what it means; (3), if one takes an
uncharitable attitude towards it, is simply meaningless: probably
one could work out its intended meaning by reading the whole of
the article in which it occurs. In (4), the writer knows more or
less what he wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases
chokes him like tea leaves blocking a sink. In (5), words and meaning
have almost parted company. People who write in this manner usually
have a general emotional meaning – they dislike one thing and
want to express solidarity with another – but they are not
interested in the detail of what they are saying. A scrupulous writer,
in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four
questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will
express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this
image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself
two more: 1. Could I put it more shortly? 2. Have I said anything
that is avoidably ugly? But you are not obliged to go to all this
trouble. You can shirk it by simply throwing your mind open and
letting the ready-made phrases come crowding in. They will construct
your sentences for you – even think your thoughts for you,
to a certain extent – and at need they will perform the important
service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.
It is at this point that the special connection between politics
and the debasement of language becomes clear.

In our time
it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. 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." Orthodoxy, of whatever color, seems to demand a lifeless,
imitative style. The political dialects to be found in pamphlets,
leading articles, manifestoes, White papers and the speeches of
undersecretaries do, of course, vary from party to party, but they
are all alike in that one almost never finds in them a fresh, vivid,
homemade turn of speech. When one watches some tired hack on the
platform mechanically repeating the familiar phrases – bestial
atrocities, iron heel, bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the
world, stand shoulder to shoulder – one often has a curious
feeling that one is not watching a live human being but some kind
of dummy: a feeling which suddenly becomes stronger at moments when
the light catches the speaker’s spectacles and turns them into blank
discs which seem to have no eyes behind them. And this is not altogether
fanciful. A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some
distance toward turning himself into a machine. The appropriate
noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved
as it would be if he were choosing his words for himself. If the
speech he is making is one that he is accustomed to make over and
over again, he may be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as
one is when one utters the responses in church. And this reduced
state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable
to political conformity.

In our time,
political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.
Things like the continuance of British rule in India, the Russian
purges and deportations, the dropping of the atom bombs on Japan,
can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal
for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed
aims of the political parties. Thus political language has to consist
largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.
Defenseless villages are bombarded from the air, the inhabitants
driven out into the countryside, the cattle machine-gunned, the
huts set on fire with incendiary bullets: this is called pacification.
Millions of peasants are robbed of their farms and sent trudging
along the roads with no more than they can carry: this is called
transfer of population or rectification of frontiers.
People are imprisoned for years without trial, or shot in the back
of the neck or sent to die of scurvy in Arctic lumber camps: this
is called elimination of unreliable elements. Such phraseology
is needed if one wants to name things without calling up mental
pictures of them. 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."

The inflated
style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls
upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering
up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity.
When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims,
one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms,
like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such
thing as "keeping out of politics." All issues are political
issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly,
hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language
must suffer. I should expect to find – this is a guess which
I have not sufficient knowledge to verify – that the German,
Russian and Italian languages have all deteriorated in the last
ten or fifteen years, as a result of dictatorship.

But if thought
corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage
can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should
and do know better. The debased language that I have been discussing
is in some ways very convenient. Phrases like a not unjustifiable
assumption, leaves much to be desired, would serve no good purpose,
a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind, are
a continuous temptation, a packet of aspirins always at one’s elbow.
Look back through this essay, and for certain you will find that
I have again and again committed the very faults I am protesting
against. By this morning’s post I have received a pamphlet dealing
with conditions in Germany. The author tells me that he "felt
impelled" to write it. I open it at random, and here is almost
the first sentence I see: "[The Allies] have an opportunity
not only of achieving a radical transformation of Germany’s social
and political structure in such a way as to avoid a nationalistic
reaction in Germany itself, but at the same time of laying the foundations
of a co-operative and unified Europe." You see, he "feels
impelled" to write – feels, presumably, that he has something
new to say – and yet his words, like cavalry horses answering
the bugle, group themselves automatically into the familiar dreary
pattern. This invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases (lay
the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only
be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every
such phrase anaesthetizes a portion of one’s brain.

I said earlier
that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who
deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that
language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we
cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words
and constructions. So far as the general tone or spirit of a language
goes, this may be true, but it is not true in detail. Silly words
and expressions have often disappeared, not through any evolutionary
process but owing to the conscious action of a minority. Two recent
examples were explore every avenue and leave no stone
unturned, which were killed by the jeers of a few journalists.
There is a long list of flyblown metaphors which could similarly
be got rid of if enough people would interest themselves in the
job; and it should also be possible to laugh the not un-
formation out of existence,3 to reduce
the amount of Latin and Greek in the average sentence, to drive
out foreign phrases and
strayed scientific words, and, in general, to make pretentiousness
unfashionable. But all these are minor points. The defense of the
English language implies more than this, and perhaps it is best
to start by saying what it does not imply.

To begin with
it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete
words and turns of speech, or with the setting up of a "standard
English" which must never be departed from. On the contrary,
it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom
which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct
grammar and syntax, which are of no importance so long as one makes
one’s meaning clear, or with the avoidance of Americanisms, or with
having what is called a "good prose style." On the other
hand, it is not concerned with fake simplicity and the attempt to
make written English colloquial. Nor does it even imply in every
case preferring the Saxon word to the Latin one, though it does
imply using the fewest and shortest words that will cover one’s
meaning. What is above all needed is to let the meaning choose the
word, and not the other way around. In prose, the worst thing one
can do with words is surrender to them. When you think of a concrete
object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe
the thing you have been visualizing you probably hunt about until
you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of
something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start,
and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing
dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense
of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better
to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning
as clear as one can through pictures and sensations. Afterward one
can choose – not simply accept – the phrases that
will best cover the meaning, and then switch round and decide what
impressions one’s words are likely to make on another person. This
last effort of the mind cuts out all stale or mixed images, all
prefabricated phrases, needless repetitions, and humbug and vagueness
generally. But one can often be in doubt about the effect of a word
or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct
fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

(i) Never use
a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used
to seeing in print.

(ii) Never
us a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it
is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never
use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use
a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can
think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break
any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

These rules
sound elementary, and so they are, but they demand a deep change
of attitude in anyone who has grown used to writing in the style
now fashionable. One could keep all of them and still write bad
English, but one could not write the kind of stuff that I quoted
in those five specimens at the beginning of this article.

I have not
here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language
as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing
thought. Stuart Chase and others have come near to claiming that
all abstract words are meaningless, and have used this as a pretext
for advocating a kind of political quietism. Since you don’t know
what Fascism is, how can you struggle against Fascism? One need
not swallow such absurdities as this, but one ought to recognize
that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of
language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement
by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you
are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak
any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark
its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language
– and with variations this is true of all political parties,
from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies
sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance
of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment,
but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time
one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and
useless phrase – some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed,
melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno, or other lump of
verbal refuse – into the dustbin, where it belongs.

Notes

  1. An interesting
    illustration of this is the way in which English flower names
    were in use till very recently are being ousted by Greek ones,
    Snapdragon becoming antirrhinum, forget-me-not
    becoming myosotis, etc. It is hard to see any practical
    reason for this change of fashion: it is probably due to an instinctive
    turning away from the more homely word and a vague feeling that
    the Greek word is scientific.
  2. Example:
    Comfort’s catholicity of perception and image, strangely Whitmanesque
    in range, almost the exact opposite in aesthetic compulsion, continues
    to evoke that trembling atmospheric accumulative hinting at a
    cruel, an inexorably serene timelessness . . .Wrey Gardiner scores
    by aiming at simple bull’s-eyes with precision. Only they are
    not so simple, and through this contented sadness runs more than
    the surface bittersweet of resignation." (Poetry Quarterly)
  3. One can
    cure oneself of the not un- formation by memorizing this
    sentence: A not unblack dog was chasing a not unsmall rabbit
    across a not ungreen field.

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts