iSearch for 1984
For the iSearch assignment, I chose to inquire about the language Newspeak. I was intrigued in the beginning because it was so vague, and if it hadn’t referred me to the appendix I would have glazed right over it and payed it no attention.
What is Newspeak?
Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, created by George Orwell. It’s a controlled language created by the totalitarian state (Oceania) as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and other stuff that could pose as a threat to the regime such as freedom and individuality.
Who invented Newspeak?
Orwell was inspired to invent Newspeak by the English language, which he advertised from 1942 to 1944 before rejecting it in his essay “Politics and the English Language.” In the essay, he talks about the bad English of his youth, pretentious diction, and meaningless words, which he saw as encouraging unclear thought and reasoning. Closer to the end of the essay, Orwell said: “I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions.”
How is it incorporated into the book?
Orwell was sure that the decline of a language had specific causes. Although he had no proof, he presumed that the languages of countries under dictatorships, had deteriorated under their respective influences. “When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer,” Orwell writes in his essay, “Politics and the English Language.” “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought,” he continues. Here is the very concept behind the invention of Newspeak.
To show this idea that language can ruin thought and that certain systems use language to restrict ideas, Orwell created Newspeak. When certain words like freedom, or individuality don’t even exist, how can we know the concept of them?
Could it be incorporated into everyday society?
A language like Newspeak could definitely be integrated into something like Canadian society, under the conditions that we were already spiraling into an Orwell-esque society, where the political machine actually wanted to get rid of concepts such as individuality and freedom.