Language has many benefits. This dramatically reduces transaction costs in exchange, both in the narrow sense of trade and in the broader sense of interpersonal interaction. It allowed the development of literature, philosophy and science. It opens the way to prosperity. The more complex a language, the greater these possibilities. Language is a standard case of what Friedrich Hayek called a spontaneous or self-regulating order, and its complexity is the result of unplanned social evolution.
Newspeak was conceived by novelist George Orwell as a language created by the state and intended to replace English. This would be the exact opposite of a spontaneous order. In the appendix to his dystopian novel Nineteen eighty-fourAs Orwell explained:
Newspeak was the official language of Oceania and was developed to meet the ideological needs of English socialism. … The purpose of Newspeak is not merely to provide a means of accurate expression for Ingsok’s world-view and habits of mind, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. … Newspeak was designed not to expand but to narrow the range of thought,
Except for dead languages, any language necessarily changes as it adapts to new knowledge, technology, institutions, and general opinion. Unlike what Big Brother is Nineteen eighty-four But, change is usually slow. We would, for example, expect changing views about sex and gender to bring about linguistic change, but slowly. Given the relative youth of the Awakening movement, not more than half a century if we include its postmodernist predecessor, we would not expect it to have already had a massive impact on common language. So it is surprising to read The Wall Street Journal (Alexa Corse, Suzanne Vranica, and Sarah E. Needleman, “Elon Musk Raises Specter of Twitter Bankruptcy Amid Executive Touroil,” November 10, 2022) The following sentences:
“I made the difficult decision to quit Twitter,” Mx. Kisner, the chief information security officer—who uses the gender-neutral honorific—tweeted early Thursday.
Kisner resigned Wednesday after disagreements with Mx…
Of course, Leah Kissner is free to call herself whatever she wants, but why The Wall Street Journal Echoes of the eccentric title he chose? While most of us agree that her gender should have no bearing on evaluating her job performance or opinions on Twitter, why should anyone else change the way she talks because she says so? Everyone who has the ability to change language speaks as Big Brother did in fiction Nineteen eighty-four?
Mx. Titles, gender and racial obsessions, pluralization of pronouns and group-identity cages are some of the elements of linguistic innovation that have been pushed to the same extremes over the past few decades. It looks a bit like Orwell’s Newspeak.
Certainly, the creation of today’s newspeak is more elaborate. Let me give three examples. The first, already cited in my post “”Ice Is Not Ice” and the Limits of Conversation” is a quote from a 2018 article by Professor Donna Riley Engineering Studies And emphasizes identity groupism against intellectual rigor:
For those of us engineering identity development, rigor can be a defining tool, revealing how structural forces of power and privilege work to exclude men and women of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, first-generation, and low-income students. , and non-traditionally older students.
The second example comes from an article by UC Berkeley philosopher Judith Butler in the Journal Diacriticsand won the first prize in 1998 Philosophy and Literature For the worst writing in the world – “most stylistically lamentable [passage] found in scholarly books and articles.” But I’m not sure if this is a question of bad writing or a question of scientific obscurity. I suspect Newspeak:
The theoretical reframing of structure as hegemony marked the work of Laclau and Mouffe as consequently poststructuralist and offered perhaps the most important connection between politics and poststructuralism in recent years (including the work of Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak). Moving from a structuralist account where capital is understood to constitute social relations in a relatively homogenous way to a view of hegemony where power relations are subject to repetition, consolidation and reification brings and identifies the question of temporality in thinking about structure. A shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totality as theoretical object in which insight into the contingent potential of structure inaugurates a new conception of hegemony as tied to contingent sites and techniques of reconfiguration of power.
The third quote is from 1989 University of Chicago Law Forum A critical race theorist, Kimberley Crenshaw’s article, mentions the development of a new language (thanks to Alan Kors for referring me to this article as well as the previous one):
It is not necessary to believe that a political consensus to focus on the lives of the most disadvantaged will happen tomorrow in order to renew the discriminatory discourse at the crossroads. Suffice it to say, for now, that such efforts should encourage us to look beneath conventional notions of inequality and challenge the complacency that accompanies belief in the efficacy of these structures. By doing so, we can develop language that is critical of dominant views and that provides some basis for integrating activity.
I grant that this newspeak lacks brevity Nineteen eighty-four The diversity is perhaps because today’s newspeak’s easiest (and least expensive) entry point into public discourse was in the scientific-looking but alchemist journal. And remember that Orwell’s Newspeak vocabulary has many different forms and levels.
I have a guess: the real function of current newspeak—that is, why its propaganda is so readily accepted, consciously or not—is to ensure that anything written before the Awakened Liberation becomes so awkward, outdated, and less difficult to read. And fewer people will read it. Orwell was prosaic when he wrote:
In practice, this meant that no book written before about 1960 could be fully translated.
Two pages ago he explained the term newspeak duckspeak, means “quick as a duck”. (doubleplus was a standard prefix for an accented superlative.) word duckspeak was
The meaning was ambivalent. But the opinions which were rejected were orthodox, it meant nothing but praise, and when The Times A party speaker referred to it as one DoublePlus Good Duckspeaker It was paying a warm and valuable compliment.
How can a group of intellectuals and rich college kids push today’s newspeak so effectively? Hypothesis: This is related to government subsidies to colleges and universities and indirectly to “academic” journals that benefit from professors’ free time to write docspeak.