Debasement of Language (and Thought)

There are two terms which have been omnipresent (ok, present) in the Croatian public sphere (used by politicians, activists and then by the media and the people) which have been concocted, I think, to serve interests of certain groups. I will not go into the merits of those interests, and I will not state these terms (which I have used more often than I care to admit).

I’m going to, however, put them into the B vocabulary of Newspeak which “consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them.”

This abuse of language and of the fact that people tend to take words as something that is given upsets me. I see these terms slowly worming their way into our everyday communication and it fucking scares me. Because fighting language is much more difficult then fighting people and because I don’t like comparing anything in my reality to 1984.

Orwell might have been writing about Newspeak, but it was just a way of saying that language can be manipulated“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.”

The vague meaning (?) of these terms puts them into the B vocabulary because “some of the B words had highly subtilized meanings, barely intelligible to anyone who has not mastered the language as a whole” and let us just remember that “the special function of certain Newspeak words was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them.

I’ll keep on quoting Orwell, this time his essay Politics and the English Language, because we take on these new words and terms with “the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes”.

To conclude, “to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration”and the scariest thing is that this “reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity”.

“This invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anaesthetises a portion of one’s brain.”

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