“Newspeak” is an attempt by Big Brother to control thought by reducing the number of words in the language and eliminating words that might lead to “thoughtcrime,” which is itself a Newspeak word. Is it possible to control thought through controlling language? Does our own society have similar tendencies? Discuss examples of Newspeak in the novel and how this kind of control might function in our society (Source: https://textrhet.com/2017/09/13/new-1984-writing-prompts/).
Most people probably recall two very memorable features of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The first one, undoubtedly, is the mantra of Big Brother and his ever watchful eye. The other is the language Orwell created specifically for the world of his famous dystopian: Newspeak. The purpose of Newspeak is to reduce the meaning of language, thus antonyms, synonyms, and so on are obsolete and an unnecessary part of language.
Orwell thought that Totalitarian societies and specially the one portrayed in the novel wanted to turn humans into machines, to replace the organic by the inorganic, to create synthetic happiness by eradicating all that may evoke natural passions and personal inclinations. This is basically what is about 1984; but what is important here is the way they achieve so, the way they get to control people. They make use of plenty of techniques such as control of information and history, psychological manipulation, physical control, technology, etc, but the ones I’m going to deal with in depth in my blog are those related to mind control, the ways in which they manipulate people’s minds.
Orwell believed that totalitarianism and the corruption of language were connected. He focused especially on political language where you distorted events and concepts by calling them something else. You said things in such a way that you avoided producing an inner picture of them. As an example, he said that ‘If thoughts can corrupt language, language can also corrupt thoughts. This idea would eventually lead to Newspeak.’
One of Orwell’s most important messages in 1984 is that language is of central importance to human thought because it structures and limits the ideas that individuals are capable of formulating and expressing. If control of language was centralized in a political agency, Orwell proposes, such an agency could possibly alter the very structure of language to make it impossible to even conceive of disobedient or rebellious thoughts, because there would be no words with which to think them. This idea manifests itself in the language of Newspeak, which the Party has introduced to replace English. The Party is constantly refining and perfecting Newspeak, with the ultimate goal that no one will be capable of conceptualizing anything that might question the Party’s absolute power.
When it is necessary to manipulate with history and your own memory it is equally necessary to forget that you have done so. This is accomplished with a mental technique, which in Oldspeak was called reality-control and in Newspeak is called doublethink:“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.” [NEF pp. 31-2]
The purpose of Newspeak is not only to be a medium for the ideas and worldview of Ingsoc; it is also meant to make all other ways of thinking impossible and thus remove all heretical thoughts.Charges of Newspeak are sometimes advanced when a group tries to replace a word/phrase that is politically unsuitable (e.g. “civilian casualties”) or offensive (e.g. “murder”) with a politically correct or inoffensive one (e.g. “collateral damage”). Some maintain that to make certain words or phrases ‘unspeakable’ (thoughtcrime), restricts what ideas may be held (Newspeak) and is therefore tantamount to censorship. Others believe that expunging terms that have fallen out of favour or become insulting will make people less likely to hold outdated or offensive views. The intent to alter the minds of the public through changes made to language illustrates Newspeak perfectly.As the Party’s mind-control techniques break down an individual’s capacity for independent thought, it becomes possible for that individual to believe anything that the Party tells them, even while possessing information that runs counter to what they are being told.
Newspeak was created by the totalitarian overlords of Oceania, with its fictional leader known as Big Brother, in order to actually limit free thought and free speech. In totalitarian governments, those in charge try to control every aspect of citizens’ lives, even down to personal habits.Newspeak is important because it contains no words that could be used for thoughtcrimes, therefore anyone who uses it can’t commit a thoughtcrime because they won’t know the words. It is ironic because while most languages increase in size, Newspeak decreases in size justifying how the party wants total control over the people. It goes without saying that language shapes our thoughts. But can it be used to manipulate and control our minds like it was in the grim world of 1984? Unfortunately, the answer is a very clear yes.In our society today, I believe there are a few factors that might control how humans behave and act. Our own society does have similar tendencies such as technology and the government. In 1984, language is of central importance to human thought because it structures and limits the ideas that individuals are capable of formulating and expressing. And it correlates to society today because us humans are so focused on the news, articles, reading, and social media that we are very careful on how we act online versus in person.