Sociolinguistic Analysis Of Orwell's 1984 Intro To Sociolinguistics Essay

1022 words - 5 pages

Alena Taing
Shapiro
Intro. To Sociolinguistics
13 November 2018
1984 & Sapir Whorf
When people think of Orwell and his work 1984, the concept most likely to jump to mind
is the language of Newspeak. This language was created by “ideological technicians” to
straitjacket the English language, and make the expression of divergent thought physically and
quite literally impossible. However, Orwell also stressed the lackluster sort of nature of the
everyday English we use. He was strongly convinced that we as a population simply do not
possess the adequate words to say what we mean explicitly, so instead we wrap around a concept
and something else, a more general phrase and heavily lacking in nuance. One observation from
Orwell was that “all likes and dislikes, all aesthetic feeling, all notions of right and
wrong…spring from feelings which are generally admitted to be subtler than words.” The
solution he proposed for this problem was “to invent new words as deliberately as we would
invent new parts for a motor-car engine.” Orwell’s reasoning is deeply flawed; beginning with
the idea the English language and its speakers add new words and phrases to the lexicon every
day. There is no way that language could function in the same way that the Ministry of Truth in
1984 makes it work.
In trying to explain why Orwell’s view on language is somewhat deluded, I reminisce on
my parents talking about wine tasting in Napa Valley. There are so many terms used to describe
wines and their respective bodies and aftertastes: “flowery”, “disciplined”, “mossy”, “earthy” or
“woody”, “full-bodied”, and many more. According to Orwell, none of these are good enough,
they lack precision and depth for the true beauty of the wines. However, it’s hard to simply
imagine actually having the exact terminology for the feelings and flavors of wine. He was
overly stressed about truly describing our internal monologues and lives. This ideology can only
be described as overbearing and frankly would make many individuals feel swamped; imagine
actually being in possession of the precise and hyper-specific terms for mundane, daily events to
constantly remind individuals of things and interactions only they have experienced. It should
not be reduced down to human error—the issue does not lie in our ability to learn most of these
words or communicate effectively.
Newspeak eliminated all shades of meaning in the language. There is no mediocre, only
good and bad. They cut the language down even further than that, by eliminating words for
opposites. For example, they created ungood, thereby rendering bad superfluous. In
fact, ungood is even stronger than bad, because, as Syme says, “it’s an exact opposite, which the
other is not” (51). Ungood is not merely not good, it is the antithesis of good, the complete lack
of good. In English when we say, “This coffee is bad,” we mean that it is somewhat lacking in
taste. In Newspeak, however, the sentence becomes much more dramatic. “The coffee
is...

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