Heroes of Language: GEORGE ORWELL

George Orwell (1903-1950) was a very clever writer who knew the great dangers that would arise if we started calling disabled people “visually blind”.   Being nice to disableds is a sign of the coming fascist apocalypse, and this kind of phrase is Orwellian Newspeak!  Without even thinking about it, I know that political correctness is Newspeak,[1] French is Newspeak, and spelling reform is definitely Newspeak.[2]   Along with the droves of people eager to show that they have read a book, the Queens English Academy offer this drivel:

“George Orwell’s Newspeak (in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four) is the classic fictional example of politically engineered language.   Newspeak progressively reduced its vocabulary so that no-one would any longer be able to express or think of any concept contrary to the party doctrine; there would be no words in which to do so.   Language was to be reduced to a barely functional thing, incapable of imagination or creativity.   Adherence to ‘PC’ is of the same nature and has the same dire effect.” [3]
Political correctness has the same dire effect; sorry to repeat those words, but the author’s language gives me very little to work with, so impoverished has it become.

So, is political correctness the same as Big Brother?  Big Brother operates by:
– having enemies of the state arrested, murdered and erased from history (and making it a crime to mention them thereafter)
– watching all party members at all times through telescreens in every room
– torturing criminals: with electro-torture and Room 101, where they are confronted with what they most fear
– repressing sexual urges, only allowing sex for procreation, as in the rules of the Catholic religion
– keeping 85% of the population (proles) outside, stupid and docile, in accordance with QES policy, funnily enough
 holding Two Minutes’ Hate each day, in order to rally everybody against the state’s enemies

And let’s not forget what Newspeak actually looks like:
“Times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unperson rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling [4]

We can compare that to an official document written by the PC Brigade:
[There is no PC Brigade. You can say anything you like. But just because they’re not after you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be paranoid.]

Political correctness isn’t Newspeak.  I am yet to have electrodes placed on my balls by political correctness.   Since Nineteen Eighty-Four was Orwell’s statement against Nazi and Stalinist ideology, it is a serious charge to call something “Newspeak; some people use the term too readily.

Newspeak was fictional, for one thing.  Real totalitarian regimes do create euphemisms (e.g. Final Solution) and dishonest phrases like Ministry of Love, Ministry of Defence, etc.  But no dictator has ever created a real language where dissent is impossible  in fact, the idea is pure fantasy.  Humans invent words to meet their needs, and if someone has an urge to rebel, they are able to articulate it, regardless of whether they have the government’s permission to do so.  It is not language that makes it impossible to criticise tyrants; it is the fear of violence if we speak out.

Most PC terms do not catch on, and some alienate even the most bleeding-hearty of liberals – political correctness is sometimes its own worst enemy, though the basic idea is a good one.   Call it fascism if you want, but calling it Newspeak won’t give your complaints extra linguistic weight.  On the contrary, Orwell was a bit of a crap linguistic theorist.

Thankfully he’s in good company: members of the Antimoon forum talked about an Old English revival and getting rid of those pesky Latin/French words that have come into English in recent millenniums.  The suggestions were mostly in good fun (especially media center for library, and pretentious diction for big words), but such a project would be very short-sighted.  It would vastly reduce the English vocabulary; it would win support from actual Nazis who want everything to be purified”; and it would produce sentences like this one:
“Setness 5: No one shall be hiresomed to orlieshaft or to rethe, unmenchly or unatheling eviling or harmshare.[5]
You could easily liken this language to Newspeak, and yet nobody did!  What’s wrong with people?  Language madness!  We must be given power so that our Académie may flourish while English does not!

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