Why George Orwell's Ideas About Language Still Matter for Lawyers

22 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2007 Last revised: 22 Oct 2007

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Abstract

This article examines George Orwell's theories about language and applies them to contemporary legal discourse in the United States. It concludes that Orwell's advice about the importance of clear, plain English comports with today's accepted legal writing style. However, his warnings about deceptive language in legal and political discourse have not been well heeded. The article suggests that lawyers can assume a role in changing that.

Keywords: George Orwell, Orwellian, language, plain English, legal writing, concise, succinct, prolix, gobbledygook, Newspeak, 1984, Oceania, Winston Smith, politics, clichés, trite, passive voice, active voice, jargon, legalese, foreign words, euphemisms, evasion

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., Why George Orwell's Ideas About Language Still Matter for Lawyers. University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2007-02; Montana Law Review, Vol. 68, p. 129, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=990624

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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