Information icon.svg The 2019 RMF board election has started!
We are electing 3 board members for the 2019-2021 term.
Vote here and read their campaign slogans here!

Difference between revisions of "Newspeak"

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
(doubleplusgoodmaked)
(expanding)
Line 1: Line 1:
 
'''Newspeak''' is a language that appears in [[George Orwell|George Orwell's]] ''[[1984]]''. Designed by the ruling ''Ingsoc'' regime, its purpose is to suppress thought by severely curtailing both the conceptual vocabulary and permissible grammatical structures of [[English|Oldspeak]]. As Orwell describes in the Appendix: "....a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc should be literally unthinkable, at least insofar as thought is dependent on words." <ref>p. 312 - ''1984'', George Orwell, Penguin, 1989</ref>  
 
'''Newspeak''' is a language that appears in [[George Orwell|George Orwell's]] ''[[1984]]''. Designed by the ruling ''Ingsoc'' regime, its purpose is to suppress thought by severely curtailing both the conceptual vocabulary and permissible grammatical structures of [[English|Oldspeak]]. As Orwell describes in the Appendix: "....a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc should be literally unthinkable, at least insofar as thought is dependent on words." <ref>p. 312 - ''1984'', George Orwell, Penguin, 1989</ref>  
  
This idea of controlling thought through the restriction of language is deeply unsettling, not least for its immediate, intuitive plausibility. As with many of the novel's terms and ideas, it captured the popular imagination and has passed into modern political and cultural discourse, to be variously used, abused and confused by individuals right across the political spectrum.
+
This idea of [[totalitarianism]] taken to its [[logic]]al extreme is deeply unsettling, not least for its immediate, intuitive plausibility. As with many of the novel's terms and ideas, it captured the popular imagination and has passed into modern [[Politics|political]] and cultural discourse, to be variously used, abused and confused by individuals right across the political spectrum.
  
 
==Newspeak in practice==
 
==Newspeak in practice==
Newspeak is language distilled to a brute functionality, with all ambiguity and shades of meaning stripped away from that which remains, and with its grammar simplified to an almost infantile, pre-literate degree. In the opposite pair ''good'' : ''bad'', for example, the word ''bad'' is eliminated entirely in favour of ''ungood''. Emphasis can be added with the modifiers ''plus-'' or ''doubleplus-'', and comparisons achieved with ''-er'', ''-est'' (''good'', ''gooder'', ''goodest'').
+
Orwell's description of Newspeak is imperfect,<ref>It would have been an immense (and somewhat anal) undertaking to realise his vision completely, and completely unnecessary for the purposes of the novel.</ref> but in essence he imagines language distilled to a brute functionality. Basic needs can be expressed, but beyond this, the available vocabulary is so radically compressed as to prohibit anything other than the most perfunctory description or evaluation of any given object, term or concept.
 +
 
 +
This compression is achieved by breaking down the distinction between the different parts of speech, so that all remaining words can act as both nouns and verbs. Adjectives and adverbs are formed from these noun-verb roots with the addition of ''-ful'' and ''-wise'', respectively. Orwell offers the example of the verb ''to cut'', purged as its meaning is sufficiently contained within the new noun-verb ''knife''.<ref>p. 314 - ''1984''</ref> By extension, this would lead to the elimination of verbs such as ''stab'', ''slash'', ''slice'', and ''carve'',
 +
and ''knifeful'' could replace adjectives as diverse as ''sharp'', ''cutting'', ''pointed'', ''piercing'' and ''incisive''.
 +
 
 +
Grammatically, Newspeak is simplified to an almost infantile, pre-literate degree. Irregular verb forms are suppressed<ref>e.g. ''got'', ''ran'', ''slept'' = ''getted'', ''runned'', ''sleeped''.</ref> and any word can be negated with the prefix ''un-'',<ref>e.g. ''good'' : ''bad'' = ''good'' : ''ungood''.</ref> allowing the further eradication of hundreds of words. Emphasis is added with the modifiers ''plus-'' or ''doubleplus-'', hence perhaps the most famous Newspeak formulation: ''doubleplusgood''.
  
 
==Use and abuse of the term==
 
==Use and abuse of the term==
Line 14: Line 19:
 
'''Crimestop''' is one of Newspeak's less well known concepts, but perhaps the most pertinent (and funny) when discussing the various stripes of [[fundamentalism]]. It denotes a learned mental discipline; a conditioned inability even to grasp thoughts contrary to one's own belief system.  
 
'''Crimestop''' is one of Newspeak's less well known concepts, but perhaps the most pertinent (and funny) when discussing the various stripes of [[fundamentalism]]. It denotes a learned mental discipline; a conditioned inability even to grasp thoughts contrary to one's own belief system.  
 
   
 
   
<blockquote>"''Crimestop'' means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive [[logic]]al errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a [[heretic|heretical]] direction. ''Crimestop'', in short, means protective stupidity." <ref>p. 220 - ''1984''</ref></blockquote>
+
<blockquote>"''Crimestop'' means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive [[logic]]al errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a [[heretic|heretical]] direction. ''Crimestop'', in short, means protective stupidity." <ref>p. 220-1 - ''1984''</ref></blockquote>
  
 
==Notes and references==
 
==Notes and references==

Revision as of 21:39, 22 July 2008

Newspeak is a language that appears in George Orwell's 1984. Designed by the ruling Ingsoc regime, its purpose is to suppress thought by severely curtailing both the conceptual vocabulary and permissible grammatical structures of Oldspeak. As Orwell describes in the Appendix: "....a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc should be literally unthinkable, at least insofar as thought is dependent on words." [1]

This idea of totalitarianism taken to its logical extreme is deeply unsettling, not least for its immediate, intuitive plausibility. As with many of the novel's terms and ideas, it captured the popular imagination and has passed into modern political and cultural discourse, to be variously used, abused and confused by individuals right across the political spectrum.

Newspeak in practice

Orwell's description of Newspeak is imperfect,[2] but in essence he imagines language distilled to a brute functionality. Basic needs can be expressed, but beyond this, the available vocabulary is so radically compressed as to prohibit anything other than the most perfunctory description or evaluation of any given object, term or concept.

This compression is achieved by breaking down the distinction between the different parts of speech, so that all remaining words can act as both nouns and verbs. Adjectives and adverbs are formed from these noun-verb roots with the addition of -ful and -wise, respectively. Orwell offers the example of the verb to cut, purged as its meaning is sufficiently contained within the new noun-verb knife.[3] By extension, this would lead to the elimination of verbs such as stab, slash, slice, and carve, and knifeful could replace adjectives as diverse as sharp, cutting, pointed, piercing and incisive.

Grammatically, Newspeak is simplified to an almost infantile, pre-literate degree. Irregular verb forms are suppressed[4] and any word can be negated with the prefix un-,[5] allowing the further eradication of hundreds of words. Emphasis is added with the modifiers plus- or doubleplus-, hence perhaps the most famous Newspeak formulation: doubleplusgood.

Use and abuse of the term

Some conservatives compare "politically correct" terminology with Newspeak, particularly when a new word (ie "homophobia") is introduced to the language. Of course, people shouldn't make references to books they haven't read, or they make asinine statements like that. The purpose of Newspeak was to reduce the number of words in the language, removing the ability to think dissenting thoughts for lack of the words to describe them (that this wouldn't work is not the issue). Adding words is the opposite of Newspeak, and Orwell would be all for it. Many conservatives don't grasp this concept, however.

This is also a common tactic used by creationists, fundy loons, and Kool-Aid drinkers. For example, the substitutions of "creationist" with "cdesign proponentsists" and then "intelligent design proponent".

And finally...

Crimestop is one of Newspeak's less well known concepts, but perhaps the most pertinent (and funny) when discussing the various stripes of fundamentalism. It denotes a learned mental discipline; a conditioned inability even to grasp thoughts contrary to one's own belief system.

"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity." [6]

Notes and references

  1. p. 312 - 1984, George Orwell, Penguin, 1989
  2. It would have been an immense (and somewhat anal) undertaking to realise his vision completely, and completely unnecessary for the purposes of the novel.
  3. p. 314 - 1984
  4. e.g. got, ran, slept = getted, runned, sleeped.
  5. e.g. good : bad = good : ungood.
  6. p. 220-1 - 1984