After the experience of two World Wars and Cold War, George Orwell realized the danger of imperialism and of misled communism/socialism, and then he decided to warn the feasibility of totalitarianism. In addition, he observed the language manipulation from his contemporary period, and he dissolved the language corruption as a tool of totalitarian regime, used for thought control. Orwell changed the feature of Newspeak in real world especially during the wartimes because the setting of the novel is more extreme than the situation of present. As Orwell’s prediction on the emergence of totalitarianism and of Newspeak, there are lots of linguistic phenomena around us. The realization of Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four implies the continuous existence of language manipulation in the future in the evolved ways.
Keywords: George Orwell Nineteen Eighty-Four Newspeak
Introduction of George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair, whose pen name is George Orwell, was born in India. After graduation, he worked as the Indian Imperial Police in Burma for five years. Under the combination of the experience in Burma and the influence of his father, who served the British Empire as well, he had developed a strong hatred toward Imperialism. After the service as Imperial Police, he returned to England and experienced the life in slums. Based on his personal experience, he started to dislike all kinds of authorities. Then he joined the Spanish Civil War, and there he found the ugliness of authorities. The greatness of George Orwell is that he dissolves every idea and experience in his works: he expresses a satire on Russia under Stalin in one of his master piece, Animal Farm; he depicts the danger and the feasibility of totalitarian regime in another representative work, Nineteen Eighty-Four. For these reasons, George Orwell remains still around us as a great writer.
Introduction of Nineteen Eighty-four
The setting of this story is an imaginary world divided into three superpower countries: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. These three countries are always in the situation of the confrontation against each other. Among these countries, Orwell especially picked out Oceania that resembles the contemporary Britain as a setting of the story in order to make readers concentrate on the story by feeling the sympathy, which is caused by the similar background. Oceania is a country ruled by one party, whose name is uncertain and is just described as “the Party” in the book. At the top of this country, there is a man called as Big Brother, who the people do not know whether he really exists or not, however, the people in Oceania could not doubt his existence, but follow his words blindly. As a result, everything in Oceania goes around Big Brother and the Party, and people always obey their orthodoxy. If there is a person who does not follow the order or rebel against it, he or she will disappear without any traces. The totalitarian character of the Party is also shown very clearly at the beginning of the story. The story starts on “a bright cold day in April” (Orwell 3), however, it is impossible to observe that special-maybe peculiar weather in England in April. Orwell makes use of this kind of trick to create the disharmony of the background, and finally he intends to deepen the potential uneasiness, which is spread through Oceania.
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This characteristic society is ruled by four major government agencies: the Ministry of Peace, Ministry of Love, Ministry of Plenty, and the Ministry of Truth. Winston Smith, a protagonist of Nineteen Eighty-Four, constantly fabricates the history and cuts off the past from the present as a worker at the Ministry of Truth. While he is working, he confronts many facts that are against the doctrine of the Party. Then he starts to feel uncomfortable about the existence of the Party, has the hatred toward Big Brother in confidence, and is curious about the social mechanism with its motive so that he starts a diary as an attitude of defiance. One day, at work, Winston meets two important characters, who influenced him a lot: one is Julia, who becomes his lover afterward, and starts an affair, which violates the doctrine of the Party; the other one is O’Brien, who is regarded as a sort of his company no matter he is an enemy or an associate and gives Winston the forbidden book written by Emanuel Goldsteinâ€•the most influential traitor in Oceania. Through the affair, he becomes very glad for a reason that he violates the orthodoxy of the Party-all form of love and loyalty between individuals are prohibited, instead, all of them should be toward Big Brother and the Party; Through reading, he becomes very pleased, for he understands how the society proceeds to corruption. Finally, Julia and Winston are captured and tortured. The purpose of their torture is not to rebuke their insubordination but to re-education them into love Big Brother and the Party without any doubt. After the torture, both of them are broken in spirit so that when they meet on the road by chance, they can not feel the love to each other. On a sunny day in April, Winston feels love for Big Brother and realizes that he is finally “cured.”
By the protagonist, Winston Smith, it is shown that people in Oceania are always watched whenever and wherever they are, and that the Party does not stop doing propaganda and implements several policies in order to brainwash the nations. The totalitarian state, where we watch through Winston’s eyes, seems much more horrible than people expect. The author discloses the unrealized facts how danger the totalitarianism is by dramatically exaggerated conditions in the novel. Unfortunately, for a long time, Nineteen Eighty-Four had been misunderstood as an anti-communist novel, as Orwell’s former publication Animal Farm was regarded as a condemnation against Socialism, which applied the Soviet Union as a model. Yet, in Why I write, which was written before Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell confessed that ‘every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism’ (Orwell 314) In addition, he stated while he experienced imperialism, Hitler, Totalitarianism, and the Spanish Civil War, etc, he found some lies to disclose and some facts to draw attention. From these evidences, it is shown that Orwell wrote this novel under ‘wholly public-spirited’ (Orwell 316), not only in order to expose the truth that people did not or could not recognize before-for example, the misleading fact of people’s understanding toward Russia under Stalin, or Japan during the warfare, but also in order to give people a warning for potential danger of totalitarian society.
Orwell and Newspeak
Before analyzing the relationship between Orwell and Newspeak, it should be better to know the behind-the-scenes story of Nineteen Eighty-Four’s birth. In wartime, it was very common that almost all of European-not only the left even also the right, did not understand clearly what Socialist exactly is. They confused the meaning of the terms such as Socialism, Communism, and Stalinism, and treated all of them as the same notion. What was worse, they did not notice flaws of so called “Socialism,” but just drew applause to everything related to it, especially the Soviet Union. On this widespread social phenomenon all around Europe, Orwell became alerted and started to write Nineteen Eighty-Four, which reflected and exaggerated the contemporary “socialistic state.” Actually to Orwell it was neither a socialistic problem nor a communistic one. To be more precise, the ill polity was totalitarianism, which could cover both political concepts. Consequently, he decided to write the novel based on his experience and understanding about it, in order to disclose the real picture of totalitarianism. From this perspective, the mechanism in the novel reflects on the contemporary situation. Newspeak is no exception to this rule. For this reason, newspeak can not be treated as an invented tool by Orwell in order to express how horrible the totalitarian state is at all, but an already existed and practiced policy in the real world.
In the short run, Orwell named the contemporary abused language planning as Newspeak. Furthermore, in the novel he exaggerated its related policy to the extreme degree in order to maximize its function dramatically. Because of extremely exaggerated newspeak, it is easily and clearly found that there are some more reasons of applying newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-Four, except its main purpose-to show the fear of totalitarianism.
To begin with, Orwell designed Newspeak to indicate the possibility of deterioration of the English language by external factors, especially politics. In Politics and the English Language, Orwell stated the interrelation between language and people’s activity. He believed if people’s thought becomes degraded, so does the language people used, and its process could reverse. At the same time, he also mentioned the language did not naturally change, but was shaped by peoples’ own intentions and ways of thinking. From this aspect, it is shown the bad politics intentionally make the language corrupt in order to pollute people’s way of thinking, and even more people’s life style could be led astray.
Secondly, as the mentioned above, newspeak is the product of Orwell’s experience. During the warfare, he observed many linguistic abuses not only by “socialistic” government but also by the proclaimed “democratic/republic” governments. Through the intended misusages of language in politics, Orwell purposed to awaken people not to unconsciously be involved in speaking, writing and thinking in the way the rulers guided.
The overstated description of newspeak makes Orwell’s intention much explicitly. The explanation of newspeak both in the story and the appendix is in harmony with other totalitarian devices so that the author not only can emphasize the main purpose of the story but also can express warning to the corruption of English language.
Purpose of the Study
This paper is mainly about newspeak not only in George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, but also in the real world. First, the study shall be examined the relation between Orwell and Newspeak. After this, based on the premise that language has a political dimension, it will be inquired into the applied example of newspeak from past to present, and be defined how the way of using newspeak has been changed. By this examination, not only how deeply newspeak has infiltrated into our daily life and how it influence people’s way to think in subconscious but also how newspeak is going to develop and apply to real world in the future will be lighted.
Relationship between Language, Perception, and Politics
The reason for the great reputation about Nineteen Eighty-four is Orwell not only expresses “a savage and bitter critiques of modern times, a scarring denunciation of our century and some of its corrupt practices and “existing institutions,” but implies the feasibility of totalitarian state and the feasible execution of its administration tools. As he predicted, the described policies and devices in the novel have gradually filtered into people’s daily life. Therefore, more and more scholars and researchers have begun to take an interest in the totalitarian features remaining around people. Among them the study on Newspeak has taken on renewed importance in recent days. Much interest has been aroused in the relationship between language, human perception, and politics, because Newspeak is based on Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Unless the hypothesis is not established, Newspeak cannot exist; without newspeak, the danger of totalitarian state could not maximize.
Related to the basic concept of Newspeak, the existence and necessity of ‘political correctness’ language is suggested by taking the example of making a distinction between impairment and disability, which results in granting more convenience to the disabled by drawing other’s attention to the difference between these two words. As Orwell, the idea that the different use of language changes people’s perception, and that this interaction produces the possibility of the language in political usage is taken a step forward (Jones and Wareing 36). The related idea, which penetrates the core of newspeakâ”€the interrelationship among language, perception and politicsâ€•is mentioned by Chomsky and Otero:
There is a tenuous relationship, in fact several different kinds. I think myself that they’re exaggerated in importance. There is in the first place the question discussed, for example, by Orwell and by a number of others of how language is abused, tortured, distorted, in a way to enforce ideological goals. A classic example would be the switch in the name of the Pentagon from the War Department to the Defense Department in 1947. As soon as that happened, any thoughtful person should have understood that the United States would be no longer be engaged in defense. In would only be engaged in aggressive war. That was disguise that fact. Terms like ‘the free world’ and ‘the national interest’ and so on are mere terms of propaganda. One shouldn’t take them seriously for a moment. They are designed, often very consciously, in order to try to block thought and understanding. (Chomsky and Otero 471)
Meanwhile, Joseph comprehensively deals with its relations from the analysis on the assumption that the language is created in order to fulfill human’s political purpose to various issues related to what language should be spoken, whether the spread of a dominant language can equal to the transformation of power, and to who linguistic right should belong to, etc. With regard to the features of newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four, he says its features, especially its political purpose, is not limited to the characteristic of totalitarian language, and every using language is employed intentionally in various fields such as commercial, religion, and education, etc. (Joseph 120)
Unfortunately, there is no overall agreement as to the interaction among language, perception and politics. Most of people, who refute to study on their interaction, insist language should be studied only as an entity on itself, without any other external factor. To those people, the collapse of Communism in Central Europe in 1989 may give much room for argument, because the people from European communist countries was not indoctrinated in spite of the execution of thought control using language as a tool. However, the example they mentioned can be interpreted like this: the circumstance of European communistic countries was not like the extreme totalitarian state in Oceania. The people in those countries could keep a touch with outside world. On that account, there exist several external factors behind the fall of Communism in Europe, and it can not be evaluated that the collapse of European communist countries is caused only be the fail of Newspeak. Anyway, language is used to express human’s thought since its emergence. Then language has been closely connected with human’s activities, and at the same time, as human’s needs arises, lots of words and expressions have been added and disappeared. As the result of this, human language has included sociological characteristic. In this sense, language possesses great influence on both human’s mental and physical activities, and vice versa as the concept of Orwell’s Newspeak.
Evaluation of Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four
While people agree with the feasibility of totalitarian state, there is a rich diversity of opinion on the degree of Owell’s reflection on the enforced newspeak in the contemporary period. Young examines whether Orwell exaggerated “the extent of linguistic corruption in totalitarian societies” both by the comparison between Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four and its application to real world, especially Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic and by the analysis of its effect on Soviet people’s subconscious. Meanwhile, Gerovitch conducts a specific study on the phenomena of newspeak in Soviet Union. His study concentrates on the newspeak of Soviet science in counterpoint to the far-reaching range of Young’s research on the example, and then, the researcher evolves the main idea into the emergence of “CyberNewspeak”-the combination with Cyberspeak and newspeak, in Soviet Science. Because the present part is primarily the evaluation of newspeak in scope, I am choosing to ignore the study related to other things. There also exists the study on children’s early language learning combined with the concept of Newspeak. As the foregoing explanation, these studies estimate Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four from various aspects.
In detail, Young draws two reasonable conclusions after the scrutinized study on totalitarian language. First, there exist some similarities between the totalitarian language in real world and Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four, “aside from differences in ideological content (Young 230):” both are alike in the aim and the used ways for expressionâ”€they share the similar intention to confirm the orthodoxy of the rulers, and its goal is brought by “euphemisms, superlatives, dehumanizing and abusive expressions” (Young 230). Second, Orwell’s Newspeak is “somewhat electric and overall logical” than totalitarian language in Nazi Germany and in German Democratic Republic. For reasons, Young concludes Orwell’s description of totalitarian language is still very accurate, and it is inevitable for the gap between the Orwellian model in the novel and the application in reality for different setting condition.
Similar with Young’s view toward Newspeak, another study points out the limitation of Newspeak as novel device. It examines the failed redefinition of the meaning of “freedom” in communist countries, which represents the limit of newspeak policy in real world. Particularly in Poland, the amalgamation of the meaning of “freedom” and the concept of newspeak failed because the Communists could not brace the economic element of the word. From the failure of redefining words like “freedom” or “democracy,” the study suggests two conditions for the realization of newspeak in reality: “language does changed, and it can change in response to political pressures-but only where the change fits meaningfully with the linguistic context; has meaningful continuity with past usage, and looms large in shared experience.” (Buchowski et al. 573). That is, Newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four must change their shape in order to apply themselves into the practical world, and it can be realized only under the rational situations. The first conclusion of the study is alike to Young’s one, while it expands it idea to giving what specific limited condition of applying Newspeak to reality.
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Lastly, there is the research on another feature of totalitarian language in Real World. Different from Orwell, Gerovitch focuses on “the flexibility rather than the rigidity [both] of this ideological language [and of Soviet Union]” (Gerovitch 13). In his opinion “the skillful use of newspeak allowed one to manipulate ideology and to some extent, to define what was permitted in a Soviet context”(Gerovitch 15). Newspeak in Soviet Union should have been flexible because newspeak words and expressions were applied to whenever needs to describe Soviet ideology. In this sense, newspeak should have change it meaning according to different purposes, conditions and contexts. As a result, according to Gerovitch’s analysis, newspeak applied in real world has more flexibility, while newspeak in Nineteen Eighty-four is fixed in its meaning and use under ultimately controlled society.
As the researcher above, with respect to Newspeak, there is general agreement that it mirrors the totalitarian language in the contemporary society to some extent, and that the difference between Newspeak as a novel device and the totalitarian language in the practical world is unavoidable because of the distinction between the imaginary world and reality. Besides, no one deny there still exists the possibility of the emergence of Newspeak in the future.
Analysis of Newspeak
In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Party is processing the publication of 10th newspeak dictionary, and they expect the appearance of the complete newspeak system in Oceania in 2050. As readers of Nineteen Eighty-Four know, “the two aims of the Party are to conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once and for all the possibility of independent thought” (Orwell 223). The Party desires not only the control of materials but also the thorough surveilance of people’s inside, and newspeak is one of their innovative and tactic devices of the mental control. The concept of newspeak starts from the idea that people’s thoughts and their use of language are interacted. The Party uses the interrelation between the language and people’s thought in order that “the Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect” because “orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness” (Orwell 61). In other words, newspeak is created to make the expression of anti-government feelings impossible, and eventually to follow the doctrine of the Party unconsciously.
Then which characteristic of newspeak helps the complete reign of the Party over Oceania possible?
Under the process of making newspeak, the English language in Oceania has faced five great changes, and their interplay makes the impact to the language maximize.
First of all, the biggest feature of English used in Oceania is the changed intention of usage. As mentioned above, newspeak is made to devote to achieve Ingsoc’s political goal, while Standard English is for expressing and sharing one’s thought. According to the Party, English in Airstrip One is divided into three word groups and among them, the feature as the artificial language created in political purpose is vividly showed in “B” vocabulary words.
The second change is that the English language has become more implicative than ever. It is because the Party summarizes various meanings into a few words, which are palatable to its principle, for securing their political legitimacy. Particularly, compound words in “B” vocabulary words show the political implication much noticeably rather than other newspeak terms. The terms, which have more implication than the past, distort the original meaning of the words with other vocabulary consisting of the prefix/suffix and the word. To take the example of compound words in “B” vocabulary words, “the Thought Police,” which indicates a police officer who finds out the person thinking anti-government idea, consists of the word “thought” and “police.” In the past, the police officer did not relate with “thoughtcrime.” Yet, when the Party becomes to need to eliminate unorthodoxy, the word “the Thought Police” is created with the birth of the word “thoughtcrime,” which can point out anti-Big Brother concept. Meanwhile, “ungood” can be one of the most striking words, which not only include prefix in word’s form but also results in the vagueness of the word’s meaning because of its implication. In the case of “ungood,” it is made when the prefix “un-,” which means “not,” attaches in front of the word “good.” It is the antonym of “good” under the doctrine of Oceania. For prohibiting the expression of anti-government idea, the Party cuts out “bad,” which has the possibility to show the doctrine against Ingsoc. Thus after completing the process of newspeak, the exact notion of goodness and badness will disappear, because there are no precise words to express what bad and good means, while there are only the word “good” and its antonym “un-good.” However, there exists slight difference between “un-good” and “bad,” which even the dictionary can not clearly demonstrate. As a result, the lack of precise way to express the word’s meaning, he or she only could use abstract description, which may evoke various kinds of interpretations by different people and leads the vagueness in meaning, if a person tries to explain what badness is. For this reason, Syme’s saying that Standard English has more vagueness rather than newspeak seems wrong. Similar to Oldspeak, newspeak also is full of vagueness, however, the vagueness of newspeak is resulted only from political abuses while the imprecision of Standard English has various resources. Another representative example, which has a prefix/suffix, is the title of four main government quarters: the Ministry of Love, the Ministry of Plenty, the Ministry of Truth, and the Ministry of Peace. According to the order of newspeak, their abbreviations are Miniluv, Miniplenty, Minitrue, and Minipax. The abbreviation of every ministry of Oceania is combined with an prefix “mini-” and each afterward word’s abbreviation. Thus, in case of the Ministry of Truth-Winston Smith’s work place, its name is combined with “mini-” and “true.” To account the meaning of this combined word, it seems to mean the minimized truth, because the prefix “mini-” means “small.’ According to this kind of interpretation, ironically, the abbreviation of each agency explains what they do much clearly rather than the originally united words. It is because the actual work the Ministry of Truth do is concealing facts and distorting information, although its original name seems the place that offer the truth to people, Same as Miniture, Miniluv is the place that people are tortured, not encouraged to love each other; Miniplenty represents not richness but famine; Minipax causes wars rather keeps world’s peace. Therefore, the English language in Oceania has more implication, which leads the vagueness of word’s meaning, and the vagueness in meaning and expression produce the corruption of the language.
Thirdly, the English grammar becomes more regularized because simplified forms of words. In detail, in newspeak, there is no precise way to distinguish the difference between word classes, because the Party removes one of them if two words share the same root no matter which class the word belongs to. For instance, the verb “think” in Standard English is used both as a noun and as a verb at the same time according to the rule of newspeak. In this manner, the barriers among different words class has been taken down. Moreover, it becomes also very easy to transform words class. In the case of adverbs and adjectives, the stage of transformation is totally different from the case of nouns and verbs. (Some nouns and verbs are united into one word.) In newspeak, most of adjectives have the suffix “-ful” while adverbs got “-wise.” Thus, there are only a few adjectives, which has a strong meaning, left. For example, “speedful” and “speedwise” replace other similar words such as “rapid,” “rapidly,” and “fast,” etc. The pattern of tense change also contributes to the setting of the regularized grammar system. In Oceania, irregular verbs and nouns no longer exist. In consequence, the form of every past tense changes that “-d” or “-ed” is attached after a noun or a verb, and it can be a plural form if “-s” or “-es” is added after a noun. Under the regularized grammar, people’s spiritual becomes simplified because they do not need to consider whether the word is an irregular one or not. Thus, the systemized grammar makes the rule of the Party much easier to manipulate, distort, and control. In this sense, the role of the regularized grammar system seems like a lubricant, which makes the rule of the Party smoother.
Fourthly, the structure of newspeak becomes simplified. Not only it is influenced by the regularized English grammar in newspeak, but also the range of vocabulary becomes much smaller than before the Revolution because of the reduction of the number of English vocabulary. In detail, most of words have only one meaning remained but others, which may be danger for the Party to execute their doctrine, rejected. To take the example of the word “free,” now it only can be used as the meaning of “without” or “no.” “Free” does not means political or physical freedom any more. As the number of the reduced meaning of “free,” the structure of newspeak becomes much simpler than of Standard English. In addition, the appearance of lots of abbreviations promotes its simplification but at the same time, it also adds the difficulty of interpretation. “Comintern,” for instance, remind people of the closed and enthusiastic socialist/communist group” rather than “the composite picture of universal human brotherhood, red flags, barricades, Karl Marx and the Paris Commune” (Orwell 351).
The last feature belongs to the irony of its usage. Though the main slogan of the Party is made of the imperfect newspeakâ”€though the definition of “freedom” in newspeak dictionary is already “without the things mentioned,” many people still use it in various meaning, it emphasized the irony of newspeak by the sentence consisting of words, which have opposite meaning.
WAR IS PEACE.
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.
IGNORANCE IS STRENGHT.
Every line of the slogans consists of two contradictory words: war and peace, freedom and slavery, and ignorance and strength. In the practical world or in Oceania before the Party, its composition seems very ridiculous and irrational, however, in 1984, it has no problem to deal like this in Oceania, where even “2+2=5” can be believed if the Party insists. To forbidden unorthodox idea and to strengthen the control over the population, the Party is obliged to emphasize sentences’ meaning by strong tone made of contraction, and this results in the increased irony of newspeak.
These described features of newspeak actually reflect Orwell’s observance and opinion about contemporary totalitarian language. For example, the changed formation of English language in Oceania reflects one in modern English, and Winston’s hatred toward newspeak reflected the author’s. The explanation of the example is like this: he once wrote “the range of verbs is further cut down by means of the ‘-IZE’ and ‘DE-‘ formations, and banal statement are given an appearance of profundity by means of the NOT ‘UN-‘ formation” (Orwell 160), he might have thought that the English language could loss its vividness by the change of formation when he wrote Politics and the English Language(1946). As times went by, his thought might change and expanded to the worry about the imprecision of modern English. Then he made use of newspeak to express his anxiety toward the decreasing number of verbs, which could result in the uncertainty of English words and phrases.
In summary, Orwell’s worry and idea about totalitarian language comes through newspeak, and the consequence of newspeak can be observed: under the diminished range of expression and simpler way of thinking, people become brainwashed, and eventually they just follow the government’s direction without any doubt.
Newspeak Applied in Real World
4.1 Newspeak in Wartime
It is a well-known fact that Orwell’s Newspeak reflects the language corruption by the authorities in his contemporary period. Thus, we can find how newspeak developed and changed by shedding new light on Newspeak in war times.
One of Soviet propagada expert once mentions Newspeak in the report:
We have created in our press a special language-the language of a socialist for a socialist citizen onlyâ€¦This language is unfamiliar and sometimes unintelligible to the masses, even to the leftist masses, in the capitalist countries. 
The advanced citation about Newspeak in communist countries seems half right and half wrong. Actually, even the leftist in communist regimes sometimes could not understand or confuse the meaning of expressions, which is applied the concept of Newspeak. It is because Newspeak is both radical and deliberate language reform in order to conceal the original purpose of the
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