Notes on 1984 Themes

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1984 Topic Tracking: Newspeak

Newspeak 1: In Newspeak, the official language of Oceania, the Ministries are referred to as "minis:" the Ministries of Love, Peace, Plenty and Truth are "Miniluv," "Minipax," "Miniplenty," and "Minitrue."

Newspeak 2: As Winston wonders for whom he is writing the diary, the Newspeak word "doublethink" comes to mind. He realizes that it is impossible for him to communicate with the future. The status quo will continue and no one will listen, or society will be completely different, and no one will care about his problems. Even so, he is attempting to communicate his thoughts to the future. This is an example of doublethink.

Newspeak 3: During "Physical Jerks," Winston thinks again about the idea of "doublethink," or in Oldspeak, "reality control." It means to be able to think two contradictory things at once without being aware of the contradiction. In other words, one is conscious of telling the truth while telling lies, forgetting whatever one needs to forget and then remembering it when needed, only to forget again. Doublethink is essential for political orthodoxy.

Newspeak 4: The Ministry of Truth uses a jargon constructed mainly out of Newspeak words for sending memos to employees. Winston also has to use Newspeak when working on leading articles for the Times, all of which are written entirely in Newspeak. For this he uses his Newspeak dictionary, the Ninth Edition.

Newspeak 5: Winston talks to Syme, a Newspeak expert. He concludes that most of his job is destroying words. Synonyms and antonyms are used to create shades of meaning, and are therefore useless. The aim of Newspeak is to narrow the possible thoughts a person can have to a point where thoughtcrime will be impossible because there will be no language in which to understand it.

They discuss the word duckspeak, inspired by a fellow worker in the cafeteria whose irritating conversation at the next table is like the quacking of a duck. Applied to someone you agree with, the word is praise; applied to an opponent, it is a term of abuse.

Newspeak 6: The Newspeak word for spending time on your own is ownlife, a negative term indicating individualism and eccentricity.

Newspeak 7: Winston uses the Newspeak word "goodthinkful" to describe his wife, a term for someone who is naturally orthodox and incapable of thinking anything that disagrees with the Party.

Newspeak 8: O'Brien congratulates Winston on his use of Newspeak and asks if he takes a scholarly interest in it. Newspeak is the opposite of dead languages like Latin and Sanskrit. Instead of a language of the past, it is a language of the future. Oceania is preparing for the day when everyone will speak only Newspeak. O'Brien tells Winston that in the new, tenth edition of the dictionary, there is a further reduction in the number of verbs, and therefore a reduction in the number of actions a person can take.

Newspeak 9: To write memos, the Ministries currently use a mixture of Newspeak and abbreviated English.

Newspeak 10: Just as Newspeak removes from the language incompatible with Party politics, such as freedom and dignity, it adds new words to define the twisted reality of Big Brother, such as doublethink, and blackwhite.

Newspeak 11: Newspeak has 3 distinct classes of words. The "A" vocabulary consists of the bare minimum of simple words needed for everyday life (dog, run, house). The "B" vocabulary includes words (usually compound) deliberately constructed for political purposes. Such words are difficult to use correctly without a full understanding of Ingsoc, and include words like crimethink (thoughtcrime) and goodthink (orthodoxy). The "C" vocabulary expands to include scientific and technical words.

To simplify grammar and eliminate shades of meaning, prefixes are added to simple adjectives. In Newspeak, "good, excellent, bad, and awful" are changed to "good, plusgood, doubleplus good, or ungood." "Goodful" would mean well. Instead of "very hot," a Newspeaker would use "doubleplusuncold."

Newspeak is designed to make it impossible to express any unorthodox thought. For example, one could attempt to attack the government by saying, "Big Brother is ungood." Because of the language of Newspeak, there would be no words to explain or back up this statement and it would be comprehended as illogical, similar to describing winter as hot.

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