ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

1984 ≠ 2014 + 2016

How do political choices made by an electorate allow for new words to be uttered and acts to be done?

Newspeak, the language created by the totalitarian state of Oceania in George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, was aimed at the limiting of linguistic complexity. It operated through an impoverishment of vocabulary and by the banishment of words. Newspeak is predicated upon a profound belief in the potency of language. Words don’t just express idle thoughts but are also guides to action. For instance, if the word freedom doesn’t exist then the Orwellian understanding is that one cannot desire it and, thus, fight for it.

1984 presents in fictionalised form what philosophers have long known: “to say something is to do something.” The difference between this famous adage and the world presented in 1984 is that certain things cannot/will not be done as they constitute “Thoughtcrimes.” In the novel, because the very words—for example, freedom, love, equality—no longer exist they cannot be conceived of and acted upon.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top