26 January 2011
“1984” Reflection Paper
What is language? Language is any system of formalized signs, sounds, or gestures used as a means of communicating thought or emotion. In 1984, Orwell shows how the Party uses language, politically, to deceive and manipulate people. Language becomes a mind-control tool, with the ultimate goal being the destruction of will and imagination. By controlling language, the Party is able to control its citizens. This leads to a society where people unquestioningly obey their government and mindlessly accept propaganda as reality. In the novel, the Party develops a new language, Newspeak, as a way to limit individual thought. Oceania’s citizens were forced to use a language that would diminish in size ever year. “It's a beautiful thing, the Destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well” (Orwell 135). In this quote, Syme, a language specialist who works with Winston at the Ministry of Truth, explains how society was brainwashed to believe that the “destruction of words” was in fact a good thing. By using Newspeak, the Party narrows people’s range of thought, which in turn, narrows their ability to express themselves creatively, to rebel, and even shortens people’s memories. While people generally strive to expand their knowledge, The Party actually aims to cut back the Newspeak vocabulary. One of the Newspeak engineers affirms, “[we’re] cutting the language down to the bone…Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year” (Orwell 68). When words that describe a particular thought are absent from a language, that thought becomes more difficult to comprehend and communicate. By manipulating the language, the Party seeks to alter the public’s way of thinking. “In the end we shall make thought crime literally impossible, because there will be no words...