Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Aug 19, 2018
This week’s theme
Words from 1984 that are now a part of the language

This week’s words
Big Brother

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words that sound dirty

Send a gift that
keeps on giving,
all year long:
A gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day or the gift of books
Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 842

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: Are you a closet capitalist? Then come out and play: ONEUPMANSHIP is an open invitation to everyone who’s sick to death of video game crack, or hates playing the same-old tired, unfun “classics”, or who doesn’t find card games for horrible people particularly entertaining. Kudos to Email of the Week winner, Lou Gottlieb (see below) -- being rewarded for intelligence and superior effort is the name of the game, innit? Game On!

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

Every Fortnight, an Entire Language Is Lost

The Draconian Dictionary Is Back
The Atlantic

From: Eric F Plumlee (ericfplumlee hotmail.com)
Subject: 1984, a week of Orwell

Thank you so much for such a great theme. It may be my favorite of all time. I’m a huge admirer of George Orwell, and 1984 and Animal Farm have had a significant impact on me.

I have lived outside of America now for over 16 years, and one of the most surprising things I discovered was the invisible propaganda we live every day. The longer I was away from the US, the more apparent it was to me. And as a result, I am a much different person than I was before I left. I would highly recommend to anyone to live for at least a year in a totally different country, integrate with the people, and see the world through their eyes. You’ll be surprised what you find.

There’s propaganda surrounding us all of the time, but once you’ve seen through it, it is much easier to recognize it in the future.

Eric Plumlee, Niederlenz, Switzerland

From: Laszlo Heredy (lacike me.com)
Subject: The 1984 week

Ass*ole bashing our wonderful Chief Executive again!

Will you EVER get over it??

God Bless you.

Laszlo G. Heredy, Calabasas, California

From: Chip Taylor (via website comments)
Subject: 1984

When I first saw this week’s theme, I winced a little as I was sure that the Parrot flies would come busily buzzing about the place. For those not in the know, the political entomologists define a Parrot fly as a particularly annoying species known for hovering around the current political dung heap in Washington, DC, endlessly repeating the non-truths of their king fly (also known as The Trump). I was right in that speculation it seems, but I now realize that this is a fine opportunity to continue to hone my penchant for ironical expression. So, as the hound handlers would say, “Hie on!”

Chip Taylor

From: Harriet Winner (harriet.winner gmail.com)
Subject: political commentary

I generally agree with those who have said that A.Word.A.Day should not express political opinions. However, considering the current political climate, to choose not to speak out would be equal to being complicit in the degradation of our political system. I was gratified, just after the 2016 election, to see that The Washington Post had attached “Democracy dies in darkness” to its logo.

Harriet Winner, Potomac, Maryland

From: Bill Raiford (br2002 rose.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--newspeak

When I first read 1984 in 1950 as a cadet at West Point, I remember thinking this should never come to be. Now, in this era of lies and distortions by the Liar-in-Chief, it still frightens me to think of where we are and how we got here. When the French historian Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 1830s, he wrote: “Democracy is the only form of government in which the people get exactly what they deserve.”

Bill Raiford, Thomasville, Georgia

From: Jim Tang (mauijt aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--newspeak

I just heard an NPR interview with a Guantanamo alumnus. The interviewer asked about his “extraordinary rendition”, which immediately brought to mind “enhanced interrogation” as a similar tool to make the unspeakable more palatable. Just as that term makes torture more clinical (and thus acceptable in our discussions), we similarly avoid thinking about kidnapping by renaming it. When faced with such words, we would do well to remember that a pig in a tuxedo is still a pig.

Jim Tang, Kula, Hawaii

Email of the Week brought to you by Oneupmanship -- Are you a player?

From: Lou Gottlieb (gottlieb wbcable.net)
Subject: Newspeak

How fitting that the picture accompanying “newspeak” should show Dick Cheney (or “Voldemort”, in oldspeak) smiling as he signs a kit whose sole purpose is to extract false confessions from people by making them suffer. How karmically blind can you get?

Lou Gottlieb, Hubbard, Oregon

From: Matt Houser (mhouser62 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--newspeak

George Carlin was kind of an early AWAD for me. “Newspeak” immediately reminded me of this (video, 3 min.).

Matt Houser, Tampa, Florida

From: Susan McKinley (sualau aol.com)
Subject: Newspeak

So we should call that propaganda channel Fox Newspeak. At our home, it’s been Faux News or Fox Noise for quite some time.

Susan McKinley, Houston, Texas

From: Owen Roberts (sroberts70 sbcglobal.net)
Subject: Other Newspeak Words Describing Trump

If one were a native speaker of newspeak, one would probably say that the Donald is “A Double Plus Good DuckSpeaker”.

Owen Roberts, San Jose, California

From: Anna Bucciarelli (amb sbmgarden.net)
Subject: Big Brother

I fully understand the meaning of today’s word, but when I first saw it I immediately thought of the helping agency, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. I kinda like thinking about that more than the thought of authoritarianism, being watched, monitored, and controlled. But I am not naive and know that the world is broad, includes good and not so good.

Anna Bucciarelli, Chelmsford, Massachusetts

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Big Brother

In the dystopic world of 1984, any loyalty that distracts from loyalty to Big Brother is prohibited. Thus when Winston Smith has a rendez-vous in the woods with his girlfriend, the punishment is quick and severe, involving a Galileo-type brainwashing.

In fact, in the world of 1984, sexual privation is a desirable condition. One should vent one’s frustration against the enemy of the day, either Eurasia or East Asia.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Wood Dragon (wooddragons yahoo.com.au)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--unperson

There’s no small irony in the fact that this was posted the day that Trump revoked John Brennan’s security clearance.

Wood Dragon, Australia

From: Ron Davis (ronaldsdavis gmail.com)
Subject: unperson

After couples I have known have separated, I have seen photographs similar to the second one of Stalin, except that the deletion had been accomplished by carefully cutting with scissors along the outline of the departed, leaving an intricately shaped paper print.

That was in the days before digital photography. Nowadays, I suppose Photoshop is used the same way.

Ron Davis, Deep River, Canada

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb uoregon.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--unperson

When I was in library school (1966-67), I had to examine encyclopedias in other languages. I don’t know Russian, but I do know the alphabet, so I decided to look up Stalin and see if he had become an unperson. There was an article of several pages, with illustrations, so I thought this had not happened. Then it occurred to me to compare it with the article in an earlier edition, when he was still in power. Here, the article was much longer, beginning at the top of the page, and with several full page plates to illustrate. So he had not become an unperson, but was definitely downsized.

Lawrence Crumb, Eugene, Oregon

From: Paul G Ross (paul.g.ross.gszh statefarm.com)
Subject: oldspeak

And here I thought oldspeak was me trying to communicate with my kids...

Paul Ross, Pembroke Pines, Florida

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: Big Brother and 1984

George Orwell invented the character “Big Brother”, anti-hero of his classic dystopian novel 1984. It appears that in both word and deed Trump is auditioning for a future “big brother” role, in no small part through his constant discounting and denigration of our free press... save for his precious FOX News -- going so far as to label reporters and journalists as “the enemy of the people”, and purveyors of “fake news”. A staunch booster of the 2nd Amendment... the right to bear arms, it seems POTUS has little interest in championing the 1st Amendment... our right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. Hmm... what’s wrong with this picture, folks?

Big Brother 1984
A gobsmacked George Orwell is witness to Trump’s latest venture into vanity publishing, with a pop-up book titled, 2019: We’ll See What Happens, featuring none other than arrogance personified, POTUS himself. Why the title 2019? Here I’m trying to echo the essence of Orwell’s 1984 ominous portent of pending totalitarian doom, but making it starkly prescient by focusing on 2019... the third year of Trump’s tenure, the book perhaps presaging a scarier, more authoritarian, less-free America. For me, the pop-up format is a perfect one for the Prevaricator-in-Chief, who has admitted, with almost an air of pride, that he isn’t that much of a reader. I’m sure this self-published picture book will appeal to his petulant inner child... “stable genius” that he claims to be.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. newspeak
2. doublethink
3. Big Brother
4. unperson
5. oldspeak
= 1. bunk
2. opposable
4. boss
4. oh, we're kept hidden!
5. unerring talk
     1. newspeak
2. doublethink
3. Big Brother
4. unperson
5. oldspeak
= 1. porkies; bunk
2. open
3. despot
4. who'd unbe
5. English - barer talk
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com) -Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand (alfiesdad ymail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

In his gilt mirror he's just a nude freak,
Not the svelte swashbuckler of Foxy newspeak.
This megalodon,
Forever a con,
Oozes a rot that makes our zoo reek.
-Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada (texzenpro yahoo.com)

Newspeak is an ongoing trend
For Sarah Huck who must defend
Doublethink and more
Like nobody before
Without herself going round the bend.
-Jan Bosman, Cape Town, South Africa (jbosman media24.com)

In his grave Reagan sighs with disgust.
Trump's newspeak has turned him to dust.
"When all's done and said,
Thank goodness I’m dead,
But I’ll spin one more time if I must.”
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

When it comes to the usage of newspeak,
There’s a woman who talks quite a blue streak.
Ms. Huckabee Sanders
Through English meanders,
Her mouth letting nothing that’s true leak.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

To live in a parallel universe
Don’t use logical thought, it’s a curse.
So as not to be bitter
Believe every Twitter
And doublethink everything first.
-Sara Hutchinson, New Castle, Delaware (sarahutch2003 yahoo.com)

“How safe we’d be if all were armed!”
This double-think has me alarmed.
I must question
This suggestion --
Since when do guns leave folks unharmed?
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When the Pres. is in trouble (wink, wink),
Rudy will engage doublethink.
He’ll talk fast and intense.
Nothing ever makes sense.
You long for a hard, double drink.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Ven he says, ‘I drain swamp,’ zis is doublethink,”
Said Putin, “I find it qvite troublingk.
Ve need him corrupt
To elections disrupt,
I vill order him not to make puddle shrink.’”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The nurturing care of a loving mother
Is a cherished thought -- we’d want no other;
But what we fear --
And it’s too near --
Is the omnipresent, electronic attention of Big Brother.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

When Orwell penned ’84, the ink
barely dried, we began truly to think.
Though, if written today,
We’d not be wrong to say
That Big Brother is Big Brother, Inc.!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

Big Brother, or Trump, as he’s known
Will soon reap the karma he’s sown:
Says Putin, “Obey
Or there WILL come a day
When, like Hillary, you’ll sink like a stone.”
-Lou Gottlieb, Hubbard, Oregon (gottlieb wbcable.net)

On the links, though I play like a duffer,
There’s no CCTV, no Big Brother.
As I search for my ball
Through the grass that grows tall,
No one knows if I put down another.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A racist bigot’s an unperson.
I’m through when I know someone is one.
It enters my mind
They are the worst kind
Of human beings under the sun.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

After I wrote the best-selling app,
I became my firm’s go-to chap.
But change in technology
has made my skill set dodgy.
Now I’m an unperson, my code they’ll scrap!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Wakefield, Massachusetts (mukherjis hotmail.com)

It seems timely to make the assertion:
Climate change is most likely to worsen.
Our strong moral codes, too,
Donald Trump will eschew:
“Immigrant” just becomes an “unperson”.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

“John Brennan I’ll make an unperson,
His security clearance reversin’,”
Says Trump. “For our nation
He’s worse than a Haitian
For daring my image to worsen.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Oh that oldspeak could become the norm!
And beauteous language retake its form.
If Big Brother could become an unperson
And news reports reveal the true version,
“2018” would take the world by storm!
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

I don’t tend to be obfuscatory,
Though at times a bit deprecatory,
I’m somewhat an old geek,
Write a limerick each week,
Do oldspeak, then a tweak, end of story.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

The learned professor extols Greek
and Latin. He lectures in oldspeak.
Kids claim to esteem him,
but secretly deem him
a mean, overbearing control freak.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

When ballplayers go through a cold streak,
Their fans don’t mince words, but use oldspeak.
“I paid for this ticket!
You know where to stick it?”
With candor the brave and the bold shriek.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Are these done poorly orwell?

Would a talking wildebeest use newspeak?

The bathroom had a fibreglath tub and a doublethink.

Trying to pun on “big brother” is a big bother.

They jailed the woman shoplifter after unperson all her loot.

My 442 oldspeak speed was 127 mph.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

From: Jim Ertner (jde31459 gmail.com)
Subject: It’s your choice: Be sick Orwell!

“I can’t hear you. What’s newspeak up.” After double-daring the boy with a lisp to dive into a pool, the latter replied, “You want me to doublethink or thwim?”

I don’t know whether I want a small soup, a Big Brother a medium minestrone.

If you don’t want to associate with your transgender Facebook friends anymore, would you unperson them?

“I can scarcely hear you tell that classic joke. It’s so oldspeak up!”

Jim Ertner, Greensboro, North Carolina

The door of a bigoted mind opens outwards so that the only result of the pressure of facts upon it is to close it more snugly. -Ogden Nash, poet (19 Aug 1902-1971)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith