1984

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1984 Appendix Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The Appendix describes Newspeak in more detail than was possible in the narrative parts of 1984. Newspeak, the official language of Ingsoc and Oceania, was not commonly spoken or written, except in newspaper articles. It was expected to replace Oldspeak, or Standard English, by 2050, in the perfected version embodied by the Eleventh Edition of the Newspeak dictionary. The purpose of Newspeak was to make heretical thought impossible by eliminating undesirable words, and stripping existing words of unorthodox and secondary meanings. Even negative terms such as "bad" have been eliminated, replaced by words like "ungood."
Newspeak is part of the Party's efforts at reality control. The idea is that language provides the means by which people think, and therefore if the Party can remove from the language all the means by which people can think rebellious or even original thoughts, then it in fact removes people's ability to think those thoughts.
Themes
Reality Control Theme Icon
In Newspeak, all parts of speech are interchangeable. A single word can be used as verb, noun, adjective, or adverb. Adjectives and adverbs were formed by adding the suffixes –ful and –wise, and prefixes such as un-, plus-, ante-, up-, down-. The prefix doubleplus- could be used to further modify or intensify a word.
Any uniqueness or individuality in the language is removed. Just as no people in the Party have unique roles, now words have unique roles. Everything is interchangeable.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
There are three distinct classes of Newspeak words: the A, B, and C vocabularies. The A vocabulary consisted of simple words intended to express concrete objects or physical actions such as for eating, drinking, and working. All secondary meanings from these words are stripped away, so that they mean only exactly what they are meant to mean. The B vocabulary consists of compound words used for political purposes, such as "goodthink," and are designed to create ideological conformity among all Party members. Many B vocabulary names were commonly abbreviated, and a gabbling style of pronunciation called duckspeak encouraged, with the intention of making speech nearly independent of thought. The C vocabulary consisted of scientific and technical terms, and was seldom used in everyday speech.
The vocabulary of Newspeak contains no words that refer to abstract or complicated thoughts or concepts. There is no "honor," "courage," "shame," "dignity," "freedom." There are no words that people can use to think about their feelings. Without those words, the people literally can't think complicated thoughts, can't think about their feelings. They can only think about objects or technical terms. By limiting language, Newspeak limits thought.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
The restricted vocabulary of Newspeak made it impossible to express unorthodox opinions or think heretical thoughts. Certain crimes could no longer be committed because they were nameless and therefore unimaginable. For instance, the Declaration of Independence could only be translated using the single word "crimethink." The decision to postpone the full adoption of the language until 2050 was based on the need to first translate a great number of technical volumes into Newspeak.
By limiting thought, Newspeak eliminates the possibility for people to think unique thoughts, to be unique, to express themselves in any way that might allow themselves to see themselves as individuals.
Themes
The Individual vs. Collective Identity Theme Icon
Reality Control Theme Icon
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