--- On Tue, 2/21/12, Brian Woodward <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> I'm pretty sure I fit into the larger
> percentage on this statistic. I would love to learn more
> about it.
The very best way to learn more is to read George Orwell's "Nineteen
Eighty-Four" -- Newspeak, and its place in society, is fully described.
At its heart, Newspeak is not a "language" as we usually think of it.
We -- especially we conlangers and poets -- think of language as a means
for describing things and ideas beyond imagining, for discussing deep
things, for engaging the minds of our readers in thoughts far greater
the mere sum of the words on the paper. Words on paper all have "simple
meanings", but put em together in the right way and they take on a new
life and are infused with a new meaning.
Take the words "form" and "people" and "order" and "the". All run of the
mill words with simple meanings that any five year old should be able to
Now put em in the right order: "We the people ... in order to form a more
perfect union..." Now you have some very deep meaning! This is all about
the People of a land seizing political power away from the autocrat and
his oligarchs and investing themselves with that power. Dangerous stuff!
I use this example as a preface to what Newspeak is and does. It is in
many respects an ANTI-language. It is not so much a way for people to
express deep and profound ideas, to broaden horizons and expand the
understanding of others. On the contrary, Newspeak is a way for the
government to shape, form and guide the thinking of the people and in
every way possible to *narrow* horizons and *diminish* perspectives. This
is done by selective and progressive culling of words and reduction of
word meanings to simplest terms. As you read the book, you'll find that
state conlangers are engaged not in word creation, but in word elimination.
One boasts about how many words he and his colleagues have eradicated from
the language, for example.
So for example, we take the word "people". Now, we can't be having with
people thinking for themselves and engaging in any kind of political
thought unless that thought is 100% aligned with the government program
of social engineering. We do this by carefully altering what the word
"people" means. Obviously, we have to reduce obviously heterodox
definitions like "the entire body of persons who constitute a community,
tribe, nation, or other group by virtue of a common culture, history,
religion, or the like" because it is dangerous for people to think that
there might be any kind of grouping other than what our government allows.
We should probably also reduce the meaning "racial group", because this
is also dangerous -- we can't have people engaging in political thought
based on differences of skin tone or origin. That means we also need to
reduce "the persons of any particular group". (This is not to say, of
course, that no other humans live on the planet -- indeed, in the novel,
our country is at constant war with other great powers, but they are
dehumanised and spoken of only in terms of their inimicality. They are
unhuman "enemies" that need to be bravely resisted, lest they overrun the
This will do two things. First, it will leave us with these simplified
definitions: "persons indefinitely or collectively" and "human beings,
as distinguished from animals or other beings". Pretty safe and not likely
to be politicised! Secondly, it becomes *impossible* to express the
political statement "We the People..." because this phrase now can *ONLY*
mean "We the living things that are not animals".
Newspeak is all about reducing the number of (especially politically
dangerous) things people can licitly think about and express. You might
now wonder, how on earth can they enforce this? Well, the answer is
simple: psychological and physical torture, punishment for transgression.
Everyone is a spy, an informer; equally, everyone lives in fear of being
found out and informed on.
As time progresses, it becomes more and more impossible to express any
idea that is not sanctioned by the State. The State controls the way
people think, the State controls how people think and the State controls
the way they express what they think. Every idea, every utterance that
runs contrary to State sanctioned norms is a criminal act. It's not that
saying the words are illegal -- what is illegal is any heterodox
interpretation of words. The only possible translation for a document like
the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence is "Crimethink" -- this
word indicates any thought, any expression that runs contrary to the
State sanctioned thought.
It all comes down, really, to State determined ideology imposed with force
upon the minds and wills of the people in order to subdue their wills
and suborn them to State direction. It's a way for a relatively small
cadre of people to grab and hold power over a vastly numerically superior
majority. Take away not only someone's thoughts but even the very basic
means of expressing those thoughts and you have what could be argued is
a perfect, wallless cage. People in this State are "free" (unencumbered)
to go about their daily lives of waking up in their beds, eating breakfast,
going to the shops, going to the park, reading the paper, etc. -- but
not one of them is truly "free" (enjoying personal rights or liberty,
existing under, characterized by, or possessing civil and political
liberties, etc) Those concepts have simply been eradicated.
Basically, what Washington is trying to get away with on a daily basis!
> On Feb 21, 2012, at 16:56, Padraic Brown <[log in to unmask]>
> > --- On Tue, 2/21/12, Sam Stutter <[log in to unmask]>
> >> I wonder what percentage of the population know
> what Newspeak
> >> actually means?
> > I think the answer is somewhere between 1 and Not Very
> Many, and is
> > probably perilously close to Too Few...
> > Padraic