Conflation – Path to “Newspeak”

Civilized humans are susceptible to manipulation through language.

Benjamin Lee Whorf championed the idea that people think in words and cannot think of things for which they have no words.  “Whorfism” has proven less than absolute by scientists in various experiments tied to specific words.  These experiments show that concepts are more important than words.  (Interesting that some scientists take Whorfism literally.)

George Orwell’s 1949 novel 1984 holds prescient, dark images of a dystopian world.  Orwell illustrates the impact of interpretation on thinking with three ideas: “Newspeak,” “doublethink,” and “thoughtcrime.”

Newspeak refers to redefinition of words and verbal construction to promote a single view and eliminate conflicting views; e.g. substitute a favored word for an out-of-favor word; insist on “illegal immigrant,” or “undocumented worker,” in place of “unregistered alien,” or “unauthorized foreign national,” or even “migrant.”  The connotations of “immigrant,” vs. “alien,” “migrant,” or “refugee,” are emotionally powerful, as millions of immigrants are here legally, either registered aliens, (Green Card), or naturalized citizens.  Conflating “immigrants” with “unregistered aliens” stirs up resentment among immigrants, and sympathy for unregistered aliens.

The “code words” and euphemisms used by politicians and activists often fall into this “Newspeak” category.  Recently, “Fascist,” “Collateral Damage,” “Justice Involved Individuals,” “Climate Change,” “Affordable Care.”

Extracts from:  http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/09/george-orwell-newspeak/  George Orwell’s appendix to 1984

“The primary aim of Newspeak is to reduce the meaning of language as well as the number of words possible.  The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”

(Doublethink – resembles Japanese Zen koans in that illogical ideas are juxtaposed, combined and represented as truth.)

“war is peace 
freedom is slavery
ignorance is strength” 

(Today, “illegal is legal.”)

thoughtcrime, a word used in the novel to describe the act of thinking socially unacceptable thoughts or holding opinions that are ideologically distinct from The Party’s. This word has its origins in a Japanese term; however, Orwell’s novel popularized the term.”

(Today, we call this “politically correct,” and “hate speech;” this makes dissent heretical, even criminal.)

Thought police, the term for the group in Nineteen Eighty-Four that monitored the populace for any signs of unorthodox thought or action, has also become popular to signify any organization that attempts to suppress freedom of thought.”

(Mobs, media and social media serve this function today.  Think “Black Lives Matter,” “hate crimes,” and “Illegal immigrants”)

Look for examples of these ideas in the news.  I think you might be surprised how much others are guiding your thoughts and words.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s