Safspeak top


Winston Smith, George Orwell's main character in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four, founds himself living in a corrupt dystopian society ruled by a totalitarian government under the leadership of Big Brother.

As a member of the Outer Party, he lives in the ruins of London, the chief city of Airstrip One — a front-line province of the totalitarian super state Oceania. He grew up in post-World War II United Kingdom, during the revolution and civil war. When his parents disappeared during the civil war, he was picked up by the growing Ingsoc ("English Socialism") movement, placed into an orphanage and eventually given a job in the Outer Party.

The Ministry of Truth, which exercises complete control over all mass media in Oceania, employs Winston at the Records Department, where he doctors historical records in order to comply with the Party's version of the past. Since the events of the present constantly shape the perception of the past, the task is a never-ending one.


Even in this ridiculously short summary of the anti-utopian environment Smith founds himself in; there are certain important aspects which is reminiscent of modern society.

What is of interest here is not the tyrannical and exploitative environment Smith finds himself in, but the phenomena referred to as Newspeak.

Newspeak is a fictional language which is described as "being the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year." Orwell's Newspeak is closely based on English, but has a greatly reduced and simplified vocabulary and grammar. This suited the totalitarian regime of The Party, whose aim was to make any alternative thinking or speech impossible by removing any words or possible constructs which (could) describe the idealism of freedom, rebellion, privacy, etc.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Newspeak term for the English language is Oldspeak, a language intended to have been eradicated by the year 2050. Forcing the use of Newspeak, according to Orwell, describes a deliberate intent to exploit this degeneration with the aim of oppressing its speakers.

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