Standard Language and Newspeak: English and Discourse Struggle (Part 1 of 5)

“Playing fool’s ball in the street, it’s your game but it’s their concrete…” – Aceyalone in A Book of Human Language

In the following essay, I intend to show ways in which guidelines around language are set up, codified, and acted out by State or ruling class ideologies – how the concrete in language is paved. In this attempt, I will use an extreme and dramatic example of this process: Newspeak in George Orwell’s Novel 1984, and compare it to the more subtle making of MUSE (Standard English). It is not the intention of the writer to lament on lost liberties and critique a controlling central government but to show how language is consciously manipulated to promote the interests of the State. What is seen in both Newspeak and MUSE is an attempt to seize and mold language to the ruling group’s advantage while, in so doing, subordinating the populace.

In the authoritative manipulation of language, a discourse is formed and manipulated. Discourse is a way of thinking and speaking so as to articulate one’s ideology. For the purpose of this essay, the ideology being examined belongs to ruling class “owners” of language standards. These groups exercise power to mold and tamper with language in order to legitimize their authority over the populace, and maintain the status quo. In Newspeak, this Orwellian language prepares the citizen mentally and amotionally to act out their respective roles in that society. Orwell’s nightmarish vision of a world besought by dominating, omnipotent, and monstrous dictatorships in 1984, has a language of its own reworked to make independent thought and subversive emotion near impossible.

End Part 1 of 5

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