Alienation and Integration
The Usage of Marked Language in “A Clockwork Orange”
In Anthony Burgess' novel „A Clockwork Orange“ from 1962, the author's use of a newly created language[i], Nadsat, plays a key role in the presentation of the main protagonist Alex DeLarge, and his schoolboy sociopathy. Corrupt and naive, 15-year-old Alex narrates his own story with a language that only the author and the characters in his fictional world could truly understand; specifically those characters among Alex's group of thugs. It seems that his language is a sort of code for those that are uneducated, unruly, and live to terrorize. The irony is that Alex himself is a rather intelligent young man for his age, so his use of such a form of marked language could be utilized as a means of putting himself on the same level as his “droogs“ to give them the assurance of being just like them and create a feeling of exclusivity, while, at the same time, maintaining a sense of control as the leader of their gang. The chosen paragraph of the book “A Clockwork Orange”[ii] illustrates how Alex and his droogs break in to the home of a wealthy writer and his wife by pretending to be in need of help. Alex's and his gang's choice of victims seems to be a random decision, rather than a well-calculated and developed plot against a purposefully and previously determined target. Alex's dialogue at the beginning of the paragraph reveals not only that he has the ability to speak proper English, but that he is also capable of a sense of courteousness that one is unlikely to hear from one of the other members of his gang: “Pardon, madam, most sorry to disturb you, […] my friend has taken bad all of a sudden with a very troublesome turn, [...]” (p. 17). As this is a completely different type of language from the kind that Alex usually uses, it can be considered marked language as well. He carefully chooses his words to seem trustworthy, well-behaved, and well-educated, and his position as...
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