If I were king for a day, George Orwell would be my language consultant

No more ‘actually’ or ‘almost unique’. Yes, English is a glorious, evolving thing – but my war on verbiage must be waged

George Orwell at a typewriter
 George Orwell: he was no royalist, but on language he was spot on. 

Along with titles, lands and the accoutrements of my office will come the responsibility for the protection of what is currently referred to as theQueen’s English.

I would immediately purge tautology and other redundant verbiage from what would become, on my accession, the King’s English. No more salvos of “actually” from commentators and politicians; it would be banned unless making an “actual” distinction between fact and falsehood. Beliefs and thoughts would not be allowed to “seem” to people. “It seems to me” clutters discourse. “I think” or “I believe” are invariably more accurate and blessedly shorter.

Cells would be built at my Tower of London for those who feel the need to introduce degrees of “uniqueness”. One’s head is unique. If I hear of anyone suggesting something is “almost unique”, they will lose theirs.

A regal injunction would be laid upon any subject referring to their fellow citizens as “real people”. From the least remarkable to the most excellent, they are all “people”; and while remaining alive they are “real” – all of them. It is a sloppy, verbose and meaningless distinction. Should anyone be tempted to suggest this is “incredibly” harsh, they should stand ready to find it is not. It is harsh, yes; but it is also “credible” – because I will have decreed it so. Believe me.

If people wish to beat a retreat from this linguistic brutalism they should be very careful about the description of their mode of escape. If they wish to leave by helicopter, so be it. If they tell anyone they “helicoptered” out of my kingdom they will be pursued by my gentlemen-at-arms.

If they are men or women of huge wealth, possessed of many motor cars and ancillary vehicles, they may escape by motorcade; should they, however, suggest to anyone that they “motorcaded” across my borders, they will be hunted down. Finally, should their explanation of their actions begin “So …”, it will be as if they had admitted guilt in a syllable. Henceforth, no explanation or observation may so begin.

Mine – indeed, ours – is a glorious, vibrant, evolving language. But pollutants will be purged and accuracy adhered to. What we see too much is the linguistic equivalent of putting tinsel across the top of the frame of a Turner. Though he was no royalist, on this broad theme George Orwell was, I think, spot on.

 – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/27/king-for-day-george-orwell-language-consultant-alastair-stewart

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