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2017 or 1984?



2017 or 1984?

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Kyrra McClintock challenges her readers to
reconsider their position on mendacious
language in the 21st century in relation to
George Orwell’s novel, “1984”. She provides
an in depth view of the dif erent types of
language that are used to manipulate an

Throughout history, the English lexicon
has changed dramatically and become
complex through the advanced expansion of
words, expressions and phrases. Many words
have positive connotations and are used in a
way that excites and illuminates the reader,
however; sometimes words are used
negatively by people of power to manipulate
the readers into a certain way of thinking. In
recent times, with the rise of social media,
specific terms have arisen to define words
that institutions like the government, the
military and political parties use on a daily
basis to manipulate society.

George Orwell’s novel “1984”, is based around
a totalitarian government presented in a
dystopian future where only one leader has
freedom of speech or even thought. Big
Brother, who controls everyone, uses
language to manipulate society. In every
edition of the ‘Newspeak Dictionary’ more
and more words with negative connotations
are removed. Newspeak is used to manipulate
and control the people of Oceania. The use of
mendacious language in everyday life is
parallelling the dystopian world that Orwell
created, this is quite prophetic as this type of
words and grammatical construction are
similar to Orwell’s future. This language
manipulation is happening right now. Orwell
takes the meaning out of the English lexicon
by writing about a society that has changed
the purpose of language all together. Within
the novel, Orwell continuously shows how
openly deceitful and dishonest language can
be. The “Ministry of Love” is truly a place for
torture, almost the complete opposite
meaning of the ministries title, similarly, the
ministry of Peace controlls war. “Joy Camps”,
which were camps that people were forced
into hard labour, are an example of some of
the contradictory language the ministries and
parties used to manipulate and control their
Newspeak is the official language of Oceania
in “1984”. It was designed to remove the
possibility of negative thinking by creating a
language where there are no negative
connotations, how can anyone go against the
party without the words to describe their
rebellion? Instead of the word “bad”, the term
that is acceptable would be “ungood”, as it
has less negative connotations and the prefix
produces the exact opposite of the meaning so
there is no uncertainty in its context. Orwell
explored the ideas of truths contradicting
each other by the concept of “doublethink”.
“Doublethink means the power of holding two
contradictory beliefs in one’s head
simultaneously, and accepting both of them”
(Orwell, G. 1949). Newspeak also removed
any synonyms, antonyms and inadmissible
phrases. “In the year 1984 . . . it was expected
that Newspeak would have finally superseded
Oldspeak (or standard English, as we should
call it) by about the year 2050. Meanwhile it
gained ground steadily, all Party members
tending to use Newspeak and more in their
quite everyday speech.” (Orwell, G. 1949).
Insidious euphemistic language was not just
created by George Orwell, it has been used
throughout history countless times. The
language Nazi’s used not only concealed
reality from their victims, it also eased the
truth about the Nazi involvement in mass
murder. They used words like “resettlement,
bath houses, final solution and cleansing”
instead of using words like “murder, gas
chambers and genocide”. In the novel, the
political party essentially did the same thing
with their “joy camp” euphemism.
Euphemistic language can be found
essentially anywhere. The language used in
war is a good example of how euphemisms
can mask the depressing truth. The
government has used this language technique
many times in the past, notably after 9/11.
“Extraordinary Rendition” which sounds like
something positive with the use of the word
“extraordinary”, is quite the opposite in fact.
This term is used when the CIA kidnaps
suspects of terror activities and later tortures
them. As America continues to hide behind
these acts by using more anodyne language, it
makes America more self conscience and
creates a country of doubt and recession
instead of stability and certainty. “In George
Orwell’s classic 1946 essay ‘Politics and the
English Language,’ he noted that his era’s
equivalents for ‘collateral damage’ were
‘needed if one wants to name things without
calling up mental pictures of them.’ ” (Astore,
W. 2016).
“Orwell​ ​explored​ ​the​ ​ideas​ ​of
truths​ ​contradicting​ ​each​ ​other
by​ ​the​ ​concept​ ​of​ ​‘doublethink’.”
A term that is commonly used around social
media is ‘fake news’. It’s purpose is to use
misleading information to gain profit or
political power. It can be very deceitful as it is
created to look like as many credible sources
as possible. It has become a large issue on
social media in the last couple of years
especially with the rise of Donald Trump into
presidency. With the 2016 election there were
many ‘Fake News’ statements and articles
circulating the media about the candidates.
For example, “Hillary Clinton is running a
child sex ring out of a pizza shop” was one
story that had been “leaked”. Although this
was obvious it was fake news, many people
believed it to be true.
This proves society can be manipulated into
believing any rumour on the internet or in the
media. There has always been fake news
circulating around the world, however; with
social media growing at a rapid rate, fake
news and other mendacious language like
‘buzz words’ and ‘weasel words’ etc. have been
shared liked and commented on, all over
social media platforms such as facebook,
twitter and instagram. Fake news inventors
gained so much attention they realised they
could make money off the lies, this just
advanced the growth of fake news throughout
our society. As a society we are powerless
against Trump and other political leaders. In
relation to fake news they have basically said
that the people cannot take any action against
this mendacious language even if society did,
our actions would not have any consequences.
The government has used ‘post truths’
multiple times in the past. Instead of using
facts to persuade an audience, by using post
truths a leader can appeal to an audience’s
emotions instead. Trump used people’s
emotions of insecurity to promote his idea on
building a wall to keep trespassers out of the
country. Similarly, Big Brother
manipulated the country by compelling them
to react to violently to footage of their enemy
during their “Two Minutes Hate”.
A cartoon of Donald Trump surrounded by a small
selection of the “Trumpisims” he has stated.
It is not only leaders who use this vague and
deceitful language, it has entered a wide
range of institutions. Schools use this
language to comfort a parent about their
misbehaved child. Businesses use ‘weasel
words’ to misinform people about their
products. People who are ‘poor’ are classified
‘low socioeconomic class’, we accept these
titles because just like the party in “1984”,
they are of higher ranking than the rest of
society, therefore; it is easier to believe them.
Should the links between now and Orwell’s
“1984” be concerning? Although we have not
quite reached the extent of Orwell’s “1984”
totalitarian society, we are not far off. There
continues to be more cameras on the streets,
thoughts being manipulated and leaders
taking whatever action they please. The term
“Big Brother is watching” used to be a joke,
however; it is very rapidly becoming a reality.
Euphemisms are used absolutely everywhere
and are continuing to grow at an exponential
rate. Society should doubtlessly be concerned
about our future becoming “1984”.


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