Newspeak Words Glossary
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In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, the fictional language Newspeak attempts to influence thought by influencing the expressiveness of the English language.
In keeping with the principles of Newspeak, all of the words listed here serve as both nouns and verbs; thus, crimethink is both the noun meaning "thoughtcrime" and the verb meaning "to commit thoughtcrime". To form an adjective, one adds the suffix "-ful" (e.g., crimethinkful) and to form an adverb, "-wise" (e.g., crimethinkwise). There are some irregular forms, such as the adjectival forms of Minitrue, Minipax, and Miniluv (Ministry of Truth, Ministry of Peace, and Ministry of Love, respectively – all ministries of the active government in Nineteen Eighty-Four).
To say that something or somebody is the best, Newspeak uses doubleplusgood, while the worst would be doubleplusungood (e.g., "Big Brother is doubleplusgood, Emmanuel Goldstein is doubleplusungood").
The word bellyfeel means a blind, enthusiastic acceptance of an idea.
The word likely comes from the idea that any good Oceanian should be able to internalize Party doctrine to the extent that it becomes a gut instinct – a feeling in the belly.
Consider, for example, such a typical sentence from a Times leading article as "Oldthinkers unbellyfeel Ingsoc." The shortest rendering one could make of this in Oldspeak would be: "Those whose ideas were formed before the Revolution cannot have a full emotional understanding of the principles of English Socialism." But this is not an adequate translation. ... Only a person thoroughly grounded in Ingsoc could appreciate the full force of the word bellyfeel, which implied a blind, enthusiastic, and casual acceptance difficult to imagine today.
—Orwell, 1984 Appendix
Blackwhite is defined as follows:
...this word has two mutually contradictory meanings. Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to believe that black is white, and more, to know that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as doublethink.
The word is an example of both Newspeak and doublethink. It represents the active process of rewriting the past, control of the past being a vital aspect of the Party's control over the present.
The ability to blindly believe anything, regardless of its absurdity, can have different causes: respect for authority, fear, indoctrination, even critical laziness or gullibility. Orwell's blackwhite refers only to that caused by fear, indoctrination, or repression of one's individual critical thinking ("to know black is white"), rather than caused by laziness or gullibility. A true Party member could automatically, and without thought, expunge any "incorrect" information and totally replace it with "true" information from the Party. If properly done, there is no memory or recovery of the "incorrect" information that could cause unhappiness to the Party member by committing thoughtcrime. This ability is likened to the total erasure of information only possible in electronic storage.
Crimethink is the Newspeak word for thoughtcrime (thoughts that are unorthodox, or are outside the official government platform), as well as the verb meaning "to commit thoughtcrime". Goodthink, which is approved by the Party, is the opposite of crimethink.
In the book, Winston Smith, the main character, writes in his diary:
Thoughtcrime does not entail death: thoughtcrime IS death.
Duckspeak is a Newspeak term meaning literally to quack like a duck or to speak without thinking. Duckspeak can be either good or "ungood" (bad), depending on who is speaking, and whether what they are saying is in following with the ideals of Big Brother. To speak rubbish and lies may be ungood, but to speak rubbish and lies for the good of "The Party" may be good. In the appendix to 1984, Orwell explains:
Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak […]. Like various words in the B vocabulary, duckspeak was ambivalent in meaning. Provided that the opinions which were quacked out were orthodox ones, it implied nothing but praise, and when the Times referred to one of the orators of the Party as a doubleplusgood duckspeaker it was paying a warm and valued compliment.
An example of a skillful duckspeaker in action is provided in the beginning of chapter 9, in which an Inner Party speaker is haranguing the crowd about the crimes of Eurasia when a note is passed into his hand; he does not stop speaking for a moment, or change his voice or manner, but (according to the changed party line) he now condemns the crimes of Eastasia, which is Oceania's new enemy.
Goodsex and sexcrime
Goodsex is any form of sex considered acceptable by the Party; specifically, this refers only to married heterosexual sex for the exclusive purpose of providing new children for the Party. All other forms of sex are considered sexcrime.
Ownlife refers to the tendency to enjoy being solitary, which is considered subversive. Winston Smith comments that even to go for a walk by oneself can be regarded as suspicious.
An unperson is a person who has been "vaporized"; who has been not only killed by the state, but effectively erased from existence. Such a person would be written out of existing books, photographs, and articles so that no trace of their existence could be found in the historical record. The idea is that such a person would, according to the principles of doublethink, be forgotten completely (for it would be impossible to provide evidence of their existence), even by close friends and family members. Mentioning his or her name, or even speaking of their past existence, is thoughtcrime; the concept that the person may have existed at one time and has disappeared cannot be expressed in Newspeak. Compare to the Stalinist practice of erasing people from photographs after their execution.
The Stalin-era Soviet Union also provided real-world examples of unpersons in its treatment of Leon Trotsky and other members of the Communist party who became politically inconvenient. In his 1960 magazine article "Pravda means 'Truth'", reprinted in Expanded Universe, Robert A. Heinlein argued that a cosmonaut who mysteriously disappeared on May 15, 1960 had also received this treatment.
Other Newspeak words
(Many of these are in fact merely part of the "abbreviated jargon — not actually Newspeak, but consisting largely of Newspeak words — used in the Ministry for internal purposes", described by Orwell in chapter 4.)
Words incorrectly attributed to Orwell's Newspeak
The word doublespeak is often incorrectly attributed to Orwell. It was actually coined in the early 1950s, and does not appear in Nineteen Eighty-Four, but its meaning forms a natural parallel to the Newspeak word doublethink. The word groupthink, another word using a Newspeak-like pattern, was coined in 1952 by William H. Whyte.
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Published - February 2011
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