The Political Power Of Language In 1984 By George Orwell

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Any high school student who has tried to read Shakespeare or Chauncer for English class can attest that language evolves, just like an organism. Naturally, as diverse people converse both formally and informally, new words arise and old ones die. Any high school student who has read Orwell, or listened to a language traditionalist’s lectures, can also be sure that some people always think that language is devolving as well. George Orwell’s works illuminate the political power of language to do harm by promoting orthodoxy and obfuscating meaning, but also highlight the positive effects of properly used language. Orwell demonstrates how language can be exploited to narrow thought and encourage orthodoxy. In his novel 1984, the ruling regime of Oceania, a dystopian future of England, fashions a new language known as Newspeak that is based on modern English but uses a highly …show more content…
Syme, a party member directly involved in the new language’s creation, proclaims that “the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought,” making unorthodox ideas “literally impossible” to even conceive (52). Since language is inextricably linked to ideas and thought, an orthodox language not only guarantees writing and speech that supports acceptable viewpoints but also keeps people from so much as thinking unacceptable thoughts. Similarly, Orwell contends that overly restricted language in modern English prevents people from questioning prevailing opinions or human rights abuses. “Politics and the English Language,” Orwell’s essay published shortly after World War II, explains how English has started to focus more on cobbling together a few pre-made phrases rather than carefully selecting which words best convey one’s intended meaning. This trend appears strikingly similar to Newspeak in some ways, as an overreliance on what Orwell

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