In George Orwell’s novel 1984 the main character, 39 year old Winston Smith, lives in the superstate Oceania, a place controlled by Ingsoc which is Newspeak for English Socialism (the English Socialist Party). Winston’s story takes place in what he believes is the year 1984, a time when Newspeak is still being changed and integrated into the Party. Newspeak is the official language of Oceania, created by the Socialist Party with intentions to reduce range of thought, with intentions to eventually stop any thoughts deemed unacceptable.
Ingsoc wanted to create a language that would fulfil the requirements of the Party members while eliminating ambiguity, and at the same time control the way people think. The way that they were able to do these things was by stripping words of unorthodox or secondary meanings while creating some new words, but mostly eliminating a lot of words. By doing this it not only removed words but it also removed the correlating concepts, this way even if one wanted to express feelings against intellectual freedom a word wouldn’t exist for it.
In fact the word “free” only exists with the meaning of being free of something, such as “This apartment is free of ants. ” Of course in Winston’s world one wouldn’t want to express thoughts considered unacceptable to the party, but it wouldn’t even be necessary due to it already being a Thoughtcrime. Thoughtcrime (crimethink in Newspeak) is considered entertaining any thoughts opposing Ingsoc. Thoughtcrime is monitored by the Thought Police (Thinkpol in Newspeak) using surveillance.
It’s the job of the Thought Police to find and punish those who challenge the party by observing facial expressions and body language using the mandatory telescreens Party members have. Telescreens pick up anything above a whisper and one can only assume how often they might be watching or listening in. Living as a party member means having to train ones body language and facial expression to match whatever Ingsoc sees fit, until eventually it becomes habit. Still, the pressure of having to contently be conscious of how one appears could cause anyone to hate their own human nature.
Winston even mentions that “your worst enemy is your own nervous system”(63). There is even such thing as facecrime, which is defined as an improper expression such as anxiousness or doubt. For example, even if someone was muttering to himself, is considered a facecrime. Very distracting it must be to always have to pay attention to and fake facial expressions, something that is usually unconscious. Don’t forget about sleep, something else that is dangerous and unconscious. Winston talks about the Thought Police coming to vaporize people, always in the middle night.
In the beginning of Winston’s journaling, his thoughts drifted and he found himself accidently writing over and over “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER”(18). Putting these two things together it wouldn’t be difficult to suspect people sleep talking about their built up and repressed thoughts. It’s definitely a horrible reality, having all privacy prohibited, stuck between working and having shelter but being under strict control or being apart of the proles on the street. At least the proles aren’t under the same magnifying glass as the Party, instead they aren’t really seen as human at all.
However, the Proles have freedom that the Party doesn’t have, they aren’t watched by the telescreens, the government doesn’t care what they do besides work and reproduce. Proles can also have sex as they please, where as for Party members sex is suppose to be considered disgusting. The Party wants to remove any eroticism correlated with sex, the only purpose being to produce children. Ingsoc even has an “anti-sex league” to encourage celibacy. Really disturbing that Winston’s wife, Kathrine, would sometimes refer to trying for a baby as “our duty to the Party”, as if all maternal instinct has been washed away.
It’s an immensely better outcome that they couldn’t have children, for they would only be subject to the same brainwashing Winston wonders for everyone, why don’t the proles rise up and fight back? The sad reason they don’t being that they don’t really understand, even with eighty-five percent of the population of Oceania, that they have any power at all. This must be the reason the government pays no attention to them, the Proles don’t have the mental capacity to rebel against them. Newspeak is divided into three different classes, A, B, and C vocabulary.
A vocabulary consists the words used for everyday life. Words used to express simple thoughts, and like the rest of Newspeak, words are stripped down to ridged definitions. A vocabulary works for the work place and everyday life but not for literature or more complex thoughts. Just how Big Brother likes it, the more mindless sheep-people the better, that way there’s no one to challenge Ingsoc ideals. In Newspeak many words have been destroyed that have opposites, for example “bad” can just as easily be expressed by “ungood” so it’s perfect for the Party’s wish to eliminate as many words as possible.
In terms of intensifying a word, the affix “plus” or “doubleplus” is what would be appropriate to use. B vocabulary (also known as compound words) was made for political purposes. Difficult to understand without grasping all principles of Ingsoc, B vocabulary consists of words that could have several ideas put into one. Basically imagine condensing sentences into a few words, what it would be like to think in abbreviations. C vocabulary was made up to fill in the gaps of the other two sets of vocabulary and consists only of scientific and technical terms.
Words not really needed in everyday or political use, but that are used mostly by science or tech workers belong in this category. Words are still stripped to remove any ambiguity. All different vocabularies of Newspeak have these things in common though: created to destroy the English language and the range of thought of those who speak it. Every aspect designed for mind control, so that by the time Newspeak is the only language, there wouldn’t even be a way to think against the Party.
After all, how can you think complex thoughts if no one is taught the vocabulary to enable complex ideas? One might think that reducing the amount of words in any normal vocabulary might increase the amount of meanings a single word has, but because meanings to words simply cease to exist instead of reassigning them to different words, this isn’t true. Newspeak along with other forms of control enforced upon Party members seem to be very effective. A smart move for Ingsoc, brainwashing the most susceptible, the children.
The youth of the Party are growing up in this dystopia and becoming apart of it. With the encouragement of their parents, children learning to become spies, watching for any disrespect for Big Brother. Assisted with eavesdropping equipment, sometimes children even turn in their own parents. As horrible as it is, it’s perfect for creating obedient Big Brother followers, especially when children never learn about the way the world really is, turning natural innocence to ignorance before they’ve had the chance to make the choice for themselves.
A way of rogramming norms into the children before they get the chance to experience anything else. It doesn’t seem like Winston thinks in Newspeak, even though he writes in it editing records at the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue in Newspeak). It’s very ironic that it’s called the Ministry of Truth because the actual work done there is far from it. Winston’s job entails interpreting orders (all in Newspeak) and editing records to fit whate hatever Ingsoc wants history to be, afterwards destroying all other previously existing copies, changing history at whim.
No wonder why Winston doesn’t know for certain the current year, people in this dystopia can’t be certain of anything. It would make a person feel crazy remembering an event, only to look through the records to find something completely different. How can anyone learn from a false past? Oh well, Big Brother doesn’t care about learning, he just cares about control. Another slogan of the Party: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. ” Overall, the future of Oceania is looking as corrupted and destroyed as what ingsoc did to the English language.