Essay On Newspeak In 1984

The book's Appendix provides a detailed discussion of Newspeak, the official language of Oceania. Interestingly, the Appendix is written in the past tense, as though a historian is examining a past culture. Some argue that this tool suggests that the Party eventually falls.

The Appendix details the underlying principles of Newspeak. Essentially, the language was designed to limit the range of thought. The word classes are detailed as follows:

The A vocabulary consisted of everyday words used in the expression of simple thoughts, usually involving concrete objects or physical actions.

The B vocabulary consisted of words created to hold political connotations and impose a politically desirable state of mind upon the user. Such words include compound words, like "Ingsoc" or "doublethink." Many meant the opposite of what they really were, in keeping with the concept of doublethink.

The C vocabulary consisted of scientific and technical terms, which behooved no one but scientists and technicians to use.

The grammar of Newspeak had two notable characteristics. First, there was an almost complete interchangeability between different parts of speech. A noun and a verb were basically the same, and formed the root for all other forms of the word. Adjectives were formed by tacking "-ful" onto the end of the word, i.e. "goodthinkful"; adverbs, by adding the suffix "-wise." Any word could be negated by the prefix "un-," and other prefixes like "plus-" and "doubleplus-" could strengthen the word, i.e "pluscold" and "doublepluscold." Second, the grammar was exceedingly regular, with very few exceptions. All past tenses were formed using "-ed," all plurals with "-s" or "-es," and comparatives with "-er" and "-est."

Euphony was privileged above everything except precision of meaning, because the end goal was to produce words that could be spoken so quickly that they would not have the time to prompt thought. In other words, people would be able to speak without thinking at all. The meanings of Newspeak words were carefully controlled so that in many cases most connotations were destroyed. For instance, the word "free" still existed, but only in the sense of something being "free from" something else, e.g. "This field is free from weeds." It could not be used with reference to political freedom, as this meaning had been drilled out of the word.

Newspeak therefore also precluded the ability to argue heretical opinions. Although it would have been possible to say "Big Brother is ungood," the words necessary to defend or argue this assertion did not exist. Through this process, Oldspeak (standard English) would become obsolete and impossible to understand or translate, since the meanings of its words would be impossible to express in Newspeak. As Winston's friend Syme states, in explaining how Newspeak will support the Party's goals, "Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

Some Newspeak words highlighted in the text include:

Ingsoc - English Socialism

Doublethink - The ability to simultaneously think two opposing thoughts.

Thoughtcrime - Anti-Party thoughts

Facecrime - Occurs when the face reveals the existence of thoughtcrime (either lacking in anti-Party vigor, or expressing distaste for Party actions).

Goodthinkful - Describes a person who thinks just as the Party wishes. Winston describes Katharine this way.

Speakwrite - A machine that transposes spoken word into written word.

Unperson - Someone the Party has vaporized; someone that no longer exists.

Doubleplusungood - Extremely bad.

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Summary: Discusses the uses and effects of Newspeak in George Orwell's "1984." Also compares it to the Declaration of Independence.


The appendix of George Orwell's 1984 concerns itself mainly with the workings of Newspeak, the official language of Oceania. In it, Orwell discusses how a certain extract from America' Declaration of Independence could not accurately be translated from Oldspeak into Newspeak. To keep the original sense of the passage and to be in line with The Party's policies, it would be fully translated into just one Newspeak word: crimethink. All the ideas expressed in the passage are contrary to the principles of Ingsoc (English Socialism, The Party's official social policy), and thus by definition, holding or considering any one of these ideas would be an act of Thoughtcrime. On the other hand, a literal translation of the passage would result in its entire sense being changed, into ideological praise of totalitarian governments. The words to translate it without losing its meaning simply do not exist in the Newspeak dictionary...

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This section contains 526 words
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