Are We Moving Closer to Newspeak?

In George Orwell’s 1984, standard English is referred to as Oldspeak. Newspeak, however, is the language ideal, which (the governing party of Ingsoc-English Socialism-hopes) will eventually replace Oldspeak completely . . . and with it, the free-thinking ideas humans used to enjoy. With Newspeak, speech would become terse and only demonstrate the ideals of Ingsoc.

This “language” not only involved the creation of words (often shortened, such as Ingsoc for “English Socialism” and minipax for “the Ministry of Peace”), but also the removal of other words which were considered offensive to the party and its aim to rule what would turn out to be a world of robot-thinkers.

It seems our own form of Newspeak has been evolving slowly for years. Take, for example, acronyms. Why go through the trouble of saying “public display of affection” when you can just say “PDA”? Why bother asking someone what time you should expect them, when you could just say, “What’s your ETA?” (estimated time of arrival).

Abbreviations (“abbr.”) are handy in writing when you’re in a rush. We abbreviate the months of the year (Jan., Feb., Dec.), the days of the week (Tues., Wed.), formal titles (Mr., Dr., Lt. Col.), addresses (Ave., NJ), and the like.

Even dedicated wordsmiths such as myself resort to unofficial abbreviations when jotting a quick note or sending a message: thru (through), btwn (between), b4 (before), u (you), w/ (with), w/o (without), b/c (because).

In this age of sending e-mails and rushing through messages in order to post them rapidly in a chat room, our Newspeak is continuing to evolve. Today’s regular Internet users are fluent in ‘net acronyms such as TTFN, BTW, NMSAA, and JMHO (“ta ta for now,” “by the way,” “not my style at all,” and “just my humble opinion.”)

Our invented words come in hyphenizations such as e-mail, t-shirt, T-rex, and x-ray, as well as in contractions such as don’t and shouldn’t, and compound words such as football and notebook.

The above examples are merely structural. But how about the concept of Newspeak that involves controlling what a person is saying, maybe even thinking?

It is hard for me to consider the 1984 concept of Thinkpol (thought police) without drawing an analogy to today’s age of political correctness. The Thinkpol in 1984 aim to wipe out crimespeak. The definition of crimespeak is “to even consider any thought not in line with the principles of Ingsoc; doubting any of the principles of Ingsoc.” It goes on to clarify that “all crimes begin with a thought.”

via Are We Moving Closer to Newspeak?.

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Categories: mental control, newspeak

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