Published in 1949, Orwell’s vision of the future should have been a warning. We are still not paying attention.
Have you ever lied about reading a book? Well, if so, you’re hardly alone. According to The Guardian, 65% of people polled in a survey admitted to having made such a lie. And what books did they claim to have read? George Orwell’s 1984 ranked #1. Then the order went something like this: Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the Bible.
I was reminded today that 1984 was first published 60 years ago. You can get the 60th anniversary edition here, or you can always download a free, high quality audio book from Archive.org. And, for more free audio books, visit our large collection.
Doublespeak is language that pretends to communicate but really doesn’t. It is language that makes the bad seem good, the negative seem positive, the unpleasant appear attractive or at least tolerable. Doublespeak is language that avoids or shifts responsibility, language that is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language that conceals or prevents thought; rather than extending thought, doublespeak limits it.
Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said or left unsaid, and what really is. It is the incongruity between the essential function of language -communication- and what doublespeak does- mislead, distort, deceive, circumvent, obfuscate.
Four kinds of doublespeak:
1. EUPHEMISM – “SERVICING THE TARGET” the army killing people
2.JARGON – “DISCONTINUITY” a crack in a metal support beam
3.GOBBLEDYGOOK OR BUREAUCRATESE basically, such doublespeak is simply a matter of piling on words of overwhelming the audience with words, the bigger the words and the longer the sentences the better.
4.INFLATED LANGUAGE – “AUTOMOTIVE INTERNIST” car mechanic, “VERTICAL TRANSPORTATION CORPS” elevator operator “INITIATING A CAREER ALTERNATIVE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM” laying off employees, “PRE-EMPTIVE COUNTERATTACK” the troops attacked first.
If you want more examples of these kinds of doublespeak, look to your government. 😉