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 handsome 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 simply due 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 fails 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 towards political regeneration : so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.
1. Many people believe that nothing can be done about the English language because
(1) bad habits spread by imitation.
(2) we live in a decadent civilization.
(3) there are too many bad writers.
(4) people are too lazy to change their bad habits.
2. The author believes that
(1) it’s now too late to do anything about the problem.
(2) language is a natural growth and cannot be shaped for our own purposes.
(3) the decline in the language can be stopped.
(4) the process of an increasingly bad language can- not be stopped.
3. The author believes that the first stage towards the political regeneration of the language would be
(1) taking the necessary trouble to avoid bad habits.
(2) avoiding being frivolous about it.
(3) clear thinking.
(4) for professional writers to help.
4. The author believes that
(1) English is becoming ugly.
(2) bad language habits are inevitable.
(3) our thoughts are becoming uglier because we are making the language uglier.
(4) our civilization is decadent so nothing can be done to stop the decline of the language.
5. What causes bad language in the end ?
(1) The bad influence of individual writers.
(2) The imitation of bad language habits.
(3) Political and economic causes.
(4) An assumption that nothing can be done about it.
- (4) people are too lazy to change their bad habits
- (3) the decline in the language can be stopped
- (1) taking the necessary trouble to avoid bad habits
- (3) our thoughts are becoming uglier because we are making the language uglier
- (3) Political and economic causes