Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Newspeak polarised language

I have always thought of the concept of NewSpeak in George Orwell's 1984 as a bankrupt linguistic concept, because it sought to make undesirable political opinions into ungrammatical sentences. The example given in the book is that "BB is ungood" would just make no sense to a native NewSpeaker. I have only just realised that this could be achieved, but the language itself would be much more complex and difficult as a result.

To make undesirable opinions into ungrammatical sentences, you need more word classifications than simple nouns, verbs and adjectives. They need to be polarised into positive and negative pools, so that only positive nouns and positive adjectives can go together. The things you're supposed to love can only be described with positive words, and the things you're supposed to hate can only be described with negative words. Verbs would get more complicated, because you want to be able to express that positive nouns can take negative actions against negative nouns, but not positive ones. The subject and object polarisation both matter when using a verb, but you still only need two types of verbs.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I still think people would break free of these artificial rules, though.
PPS - It's what we do with language anyway.

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