In George Orwell’s, 1984, everything has the sense of being created for a specific purpose. Nothing is wasted. Everything is a ruse by the Party to invoke a very deliberate response to their world.
Winston moves through the created world, editing and deleting past documents in order to preserve the infallible presense. Though he himself rejects the new world, believing the past to be the Utopia the Party is striving for, he has a large helping hand in keeping the masses ignorant of the truth.
The devices which the Party uses to keep the masses in submission are interesting, particularly that of language. The Party develops its own language for its members to speak in, referred to as ‘Newspeak’. It reminded me of ‘textspeak’ a term more popular a few years ago to describe the unusual way in which students were writing in class. It transpired from before affordable contracts and each 120 character sms had to be refined and shortened to make that 10p message worthwhile sending.
‘Newspeak’ was not the unconscious collaboration of innocent minds but instead a very deliberate move to eradicate meaning from language. Orwell goes into more depth of ‘Newspeak’ in the Appendices to 1984 which goes further to explain the construction of the unusual words and reveals more about the motivation behind them. By stripping meaning from words the Party intended to control what people thought by not giving them the words that would allow their minds to explore the possibility that there is a brighter, alternative possibility.
Ludwig Wittgenstein’s famous quote: “the limits of my language mean the limits of my world” encompasses the idea elloquently that without the words to formulate the idea, the idea can never emerge. We think in words, at least I do. As I’m thinking of this article I hear the words in my head before I write them down. If I did not have the words would those ideas still reside in my head in the form that they do? Philosophers may argue that the ideas would still exist.
However I am seduced by Orwell’s inclination that control of language gives an unprecedented control over the minds of the speakers. Don’t want to argue about the state of the economy? Then remove recession from my vocabulary and I can say no more about it.