Daily Archives: July 3, 2018

  1. The text chosen is England Your England by George Orwell (real name Eric Blair). It may be seen after the essay.

Pragmatics is derived from the Ancient Greek phrase meaning ”suitable for action”. The pragmatic features encountered in the text ought to render the text suitable for its purpose. However, few if any text achieves this entirely.

Charles W Morris said that pragmatics is about trying to comprehend the relationship between signs and their users. Pragmatic focuses on implied meaning and not simply literal meaning. Although Orwell was a straightfoward in his style there is still plenty of implicature in his writing because that is simply unavoidable.

This article by Orwell contains hundreds of sentences. These are abstract entities and may be separated from non-linguistic context. The speech events in this text consist of the addresser (George Orwell) writing to the addressee (English middle brow readers). The context is the Second World War and the social and cultural situation in the UK at the time. The message is that England is almost unique and that it is neither as bad as left wingers claim nor as virtuous as right wingers pretend. The code is Standard British English and a mid register vocabulary.

The text exhibits some functions as identified by Karl Buhler and Roman Jakobson.

That phatic function is not found in this text.

There is no metalingual function in this text. That is because George Orwell is not discussing language itself.

”No, not even a reader of the Daily Telegraph could quite swallow that” is an example of an expressive act. Here George Orwell reveals his opinion with an interjection. He was expressing his disbelief in the notion that the United Kingdom is a full democracy and his contempt fo the Daily Telegraph world view.

Interestingly, George Orwell does not use the conative function. There are no imperatives here.

There is a use of the poetic function in the last sentence. ”…England is an everlasting animal stretching into the future….” The purpose of this sentence is the message itself.

There is ambiguity early in this text – ”would never sleep any worse for it.” Taken out of context one could assume that sleeping worse would be something literal as in experiencing insomnia. In context this expression about sleeping worse means to experience guilt over an immoral action. That is the speaker’s intent.

George Orwell was eager to minimise ambiguity. This is why he relied heavily on quotidian words. He believed in writing in the shortest and simplest words he could use insofaras possible. Choosing lengthy and unusual words did not help to convey meaning but rather to obfuscate and to try to appear clever. Nevertheless he could not help some ambiguity appearing in his writing.

In part II ‘Yes, I am ugly, and you daren’t laugh at me’,  is an utterance.  However, there is some syntactic ambiguity around this phrase. Whom the speaker is speaking to is unclear.

Ferdinand de Sassaure was the precursor of scholars of pragmatics. Many of his ideas have informed pragmatics. He claimed that language consists of countless parts and a text can be broken down into its constituent parts for these to be analysed.

Pragmatics recognises that language does not exist in a vaccum. It is always in a context. Therefore we analyse these signs or words by studying the context too.

Because Orwell was writing in 1940 this essay is partly a work of historical pragmatics. His use of pragmatics is not entirely the same as the use of pragmatics today. For instance he used the word ”one” to mean ”people in general.” The use of ”one” in this sense is almost extinct. The Prince of Wales is almost the only person who says it. This usage strikes many as archaic, excessively upper class and pretentious. It is on its way to extinction. However, for an unpretentious writer in the 1940s this was a perfectly normal expression.

Perhaps the thrust of pragmatics is understanding a speaker’s meaning. Pragmatics does not concern itself with grammar or phonetics. As this is a written text it cannot have phonetics anyway.

This essay must examine meaning in context. Orwell was a British novelist and jounralist who was writing in the early stages of the Second World War when it was far from certain that the Allies would win. He was an avowed socialist and he proclaimed his beliefs throughout his work.

There is ample use of implicature by Orwell. Implicature is a theory developed by H P Grice. In this text George Orwell used the expression ”as weak as straw”. This is a simile. Everyone knows that he is not saying that ideologies can be something physical like straw. The reader knows from context that Orwell means that certain ideologies are feeble. Other examples of implicature are the use of Hitler and Mussolini. Everyone knows he is writing about Adolf Hitler and Benito Amilcare Mussolini. The write is not obliged to make this certain by using a person’s full name. That would be pedantic. What Orwell says and what he implicates are not the same.

Orwell wrote ”And, as western people go, the English are …” The implication is that the English are western.

Orwell was slightly informal by using the word ”till”. He could habe made the word choice for ”until”.

Orwell used relative distance very frequently. He often distances himself and the English from Hitler.

Orwell wrote that ”…even Americans feel more at home in Europe”. He was suggesting that Americans are more different from the English than Europeans are. However, he left this unsaid. He also unintentionally revealed his opinion that the English are not European.

Orwell used hedges such as ”There is a sort of back handed …”. He is weakening his statement and slowing his prose.

”And above all…” is an example of information structure. Orwell is emphasising that something is most important. This pragmatic feature is usually found in speech but can be found in writing too.

Orwell seems to engage in formal pragmatics when he asks ”are there such things as nations?” He instantly explores the context by asking if forty-six million people can really be the same. There is another fascinating insight into Orwell’s view. He unintentionally revealed that he considered the Northern Irish, Scottish and Welsh to be English. He never uses the words British, Britian or the United Kingdom in this the first two sections of this article. He only ever said England and English. The population of England was well under forty-six million at the time. The figure of forty-six million can only be arrived at by adding the populations of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to that of England. In part III George Orwell acknowledges that he has elided Wales and Scotland into England. He does not allude to Northern Ireland at all.

Orwell wrote about ”his eyes”. Orwell is the signifier. What is signified is the eyes of people in general. (Saussure and Hugenin).

The semantico-referential meaning of the proposition about Hitler’s June purge could be Hitler taking medicine to make him defecate. It could allude to June in any year. Those who know much about 1930s German History will realise that Orwell was alluding to June 1940 and the killing of about 300 political rivals. That is an example of indexical meaning. This indexical meaning is comprehensible because Orwell was writing in 1940 and was concerned with politics not digestion. Moreover, he was a committed anti-Nazi.

”England, together with the rest of the world, is changing” is a meta sematncial changing.

”Foreign” is a referential indexical sign used by Orwell. As he was an Englishman (though born in India and a quarter French) anything that was not English was foreign. This word ”foreign” is a shifter since its meaning changes according to who utters it.

The term ”old maid” is a pure index as Michael Silverstein would say. That is because this word refers to

US constitution is not divinely inspired ======================================================


Glenn Beck said it was
founding fathers did not say it
every country has a constitution. US is not the first
impressive document. lyrical. works well.
some work better
Afgahnostan under Taleban had the koran as constitution
if constitutin was perfect would it not outlaw slavery
would it not be pro life
why 25 amendements
why no second amendment in there from the beginning?
why not anti gay marriage thing?
it is riduclous to valoruise the constituon. it is man made, imperfect and subject to review.