NCTE

Resolution on the Relation of Language to Public Policy

1971 NCTE Annual Business Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada

Background

“Language is not a ‘neutral’ medium,” proposers of this resolution pointed out. They cited George Orwell’s warning, in “Politics and the English Language,” that language is often used as an instrument for wielding social control or political power. They quoted terms such as “pacification” and “free-fire zones,” used by public officials in statements about the war in Vietnam.

“Although teachers of English do not make national policy,” they said, “we should do what we can to free public language and thought from manipulation by the powerful.”

Resolution

Resolved, that the National Council of Teachers of English find means to study the relation of language to public policy, to keep track of, publicize, and combat semantic distortion by public officials, candidates for office, political commentators, and all those who transmit through the mass media.

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