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Our first catastrophic mistranslation comes from American Motors who launched a car called ‘the matador’.Thrilled and excited by the name which was meant to be filled with virility, the motor company was left dissatisfied when they tried to launch in Puerto Rico where the sales were non-existent.Though they are initially silenced by “a tremendous growling from the dogs,” the tension isn’t dissolved until the sheep break into a collective recital of “‘Four legs good, two legs bad!’” In this key scene, Orwell explicitly contrasts brute force and the power of language, demonstrating that while the former may be effective in the short term, the latter has deeper, more lasting effects.

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By choosing “I agree” below, you agree that NPR’s sites use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR’s sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR’s traffic.To check this threat to the pigs’ power, Napoleon relies on rousing slogans, songs, and phrases to instill patriotism and conformity among the animals.On Animal Farm, it quickly becomes clear that language and rhetoric can be much more effective tools of social control than violence.When written commandments prove too difficult for many of the animals, the pigs synthesize them into a single, brief catchphrase: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” The slogan inspires the animals to adore their leaders rather than fear them, and by repeating it they deepen their commitment to the pigs.Boxer, the loyal cart-horse, continuously reaffirms his faith in the pigs’ judgment by repeating the slogan “Napoleon is always right” in addition to his usual mantra, “I will work harder.” The animals eventually use the pigs’ slogans to police themselves, such as when several animals protest Napoleon’s decision to begin trading farm products to humans.

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