1984 George Orwell, Newspeak

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1984 George Orwell, Newspeak
In 1984 George Orwell, the concept of newspeak is invented. Orwell knew that the decline of a language had economic and political causes. He assumed that languages of dictatorial nations, like Germany and the Soviet Union, had deteriorated following the encountered regimes. His work on newspeak was under the notion that language has to suffer or be altered when the general atmosphere is bad. If language is corrupted by thought, consequently, thoughts can be corrupted by language. Orwell created newspeak, the official language of Oceania, to illustrate how language can corrupt thought and prove that totalitarian systems use language to restrict instead of broadening ideas. For instance, freedom cannot exist without a word for freedom.
Orwell explains the etymology and syntactical arrangement of the newspeak in his appendix. Language such as English, which has diverse expressions, will broaden the knowledge and awareness of its speakers since it tends to gain words; on the contrary, newspeak loses words after removing phrases that represent opposing concepts. Thus, it promotes a narrowing and awareness of thought besides eliminating unnecessary words. For example, the word “clean” presumes the opposite of “dirty”; therefore, the word “dirty” is unnecessary. The degrees of cleanliness will therefore be expressed by adding suffixes and standard prefixes to the word “clean,” that is, unclean (dirty) doubleclean (very clean). By going through the entire novel, I will outline the incidences and purpose of newspeak as outlined by Orwell and how it has affected Winston and the general society.
The whole aim of newspeak is to narrow the range of thought; it is traced following the defeat of Big Brother, whereby the victory was attributed to the language but rather not the anonymous resistant group, individual rebel, or the brotherhood. The appendix outlines the attempts of Oceania to replace oldspeak with newspeak. However, it was too difficult, especially when translating the oldspeak literature into newspeak. Therefore, the party’s plan; abolition of the family, literature, curiosity, and art were not achieved. As Orwell states, the declaration of independence exemplifies this.
In the 1984 story, Orwell outlines technology as an oppressive force, though it is liberation in reality. According to Snowden, technology companies and enterprises are in collusion with the government. This Snowden case exemplifies that the main story of 1984 is about language and freedom of thought. The contemporary technology founding myth is the band ethos of the garage going against bureaucratic and centralized systems like IBM by giving technology into the people’s hands. Scrapy startups, under the influence of wealthy CEOs, have grown into multi-natural corporations. Powerful companies are currently running successful social networks. However, we are surrounded by technology, questioning the status quo; an example is the Snowden technology. Orwell was responding to the cold war when he wrote 1984, without anticipating in full the reach of digital technology. He saw the future whereby the government had a lot of control while believing in people’s ability to use language for dissent.
The perspective of newspeak is controlling the mind more easily by making the language less expensive. Orwell clearly stipulates that a government can control its citizens’ minds when it creates a language and mandates how it will be used. In the records of the ministry of truth, Winston works with a speak-write machine. He happens to destroy the obsolete documents and updates the Big Brother’s orders and the party records to make them match the new developments. This means that Winston had the mandate to revise the newspeak documents, remove the bad attributes while replacing them with new aspects. This was under the notion that Big Brother can never be wrong. Even when the citizens of Airstrip one were told that they will be given more than ever, they believed it even though they were forced to live with less food. For example, if it was in the current situation, Winston must alter comrade withers speech recorded in 1983 December. Comrade Withers was one of the Big Brothers’ former officials; he was executed following allegations that he was an enemy towards their progress. Thus, any documents praising him as loyal would be unacceptable.
Another purpose of newspeak was to cut down the use of large phrases, huge vocabulary. It wanted to meet the needs of English socialism that meant to overcome the oldspeak by future years. Thus, many words from the English language would be eliminated. Since vocabulary is a measure of an individual’s intelligence, diminishing the use of vocabulary would make the English language lose its meaning. Therefore, the quality of language used in society would be deficient.
The use of newspeak suggested that something was not good in Oceania. Because of the “bad atmosphere” in Oceania, language is suffering greatly. The shortening of language and removal of some words and their meaning will corrupt individuals’ thoughts in Oceania. The party was trying to eliminate individual intelligence in people. Employing the use of the language would make individuals have shallow thoughts and freedom. Also, restricting the use of the terminology would make other individuals lack interest in the lack and thus, diminish their ambitions and aspirations. In society, individuals would be manipulated by the government since introducing newspeak will make their minds corrupt. Such a scenario would lead to dictatorship within society. The citizens would be subjects to the ruling power.
Additionally, besides diminishing individuals’ aspirations, using the newspeak language will make it difficult for individuals to express their emotions. Emotions are usually expressed using some certain vast varieties of terminologies. Altering the language to make it short and casting the describing words aside will make an expression of emotion in words challenging. While referring to society, romance, love, and affection will lose their meaning since they need outward expression of feelings and emotions. This, in turn, lowers the progress of society.
Another purpose of the newspeak was to make everything under the control of the party. The party wanted to cast words like “rebellion” aside. Since eliminating the use of such words and phrases would make them lose meaning with time. The party believed that when people have forgotten the meaning of such words, they will rule with ease. Furthermore, they could change or remove the meaning of words to favor and assist the power invested in Big Brother. Any ability to develop negative ideas and thoughts would be diminished; there will be no ideas formed to challenge the party’s power. Currently, this aspect would have led to a ruling where there is no opposition, for instance, a one-party state. Things like riots, strikes, and demonstrations would be unheard of.
Since the party would be controlling everything, not limited to their education, abilities, and movement, this would be another alternative to the party to control the peoples’ minds by limiting language use. The individuals who were at top to defy the Big Brother would be dumbed limiting their brain capacity. In the society, when education is controlled, some chapters and knowledge would be eliminated making the capacity of the brain limited. Suppressing individuals’ ability will lower society’s development since vital skills and personnel have been eliminated.
Lastly, another purpose of the newspeak was to formulate a form of government that will be unique. A government form without opposition controls its citizens in every aspect and a government whereby a lot of power is invested to the ruling party. Furthermore, society would consist of two sorts of individuals: the elite people, mostly government officials, and the citizens who have limitations of education. These two categories of individuals will have a different understanding of the social, political phenomena; this difference in ideologies will oppress the other. The citizens will be the oppressed party. Additionally, since the citizens will be submissive to the government’s amendments, it will be easy to employ some evil practices like slavery.
In conclusion, the 1984 novel by George Orwell helps us understand the concept of newspeak and how the mechanism would have affected society and specifically Winston, the main character of the story. In the appendix, where the newspeak is outlined, Orwell helps us understand the various weapons an organization or a group can use to access power and stay in power for long. Instead of overthrowing governments and forcefully subjecting people, a mechanism of language can be used to alter people’s thoughts, making them adhere to the expectations. However, through the effects discussed above, the newspeak mechanism should not be encouraged; it is deceitful and impresses selfishness.
Work cited
Courtine, Jean-Jacques, and Laura Willett. “A Brave New Language: Orwell’s Invention of” Newspeak” in 1984.” SubStance 15.2 (1986): 69-74.
Fowler, Roger. “Newspeak and the Language of the Party.” Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations. George Orwell’s 1984. Updated Edition (1984): 93-108.
Lang, Berel. “1984: Newspeak, Technology, and The Death of Language.” Soundings, (1989): 165-177.
Orwell, George. “Appendix: The principles of newspeak.” Nineteen eighty-four (1949): 241-51.

 

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