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Aug 13, 2018
This week’s theme
Words from 1984 that are now a part of the language

This week’s words
Big Brother

Dick Cheney signing a waterboarding kit
Dick Cheney signing a waterboarding kit. What fun!

Don’t miss the Showtime series Who Is America? from which the above screenshot was taken. Here’s a preview (11 min., totally worth it).

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with Anu Garg

George Orwell predicted it. It’s just that his numbers were a little off. Instead of 1984, it happened some 30 years later (perhaps Orwell didn’t have access to a computer fast enough to precisely account for the retrograde motion of Jupiter).

Anyway, compare:

“What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
(US President, July 24, 2018)

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
(Orwell in 1984)

In this new reality, real news is fake, faux (also spelled as Fox) news is real.

As an homage to Orwell, this week we’ll feature five words he coined in the novel 1984 that are now a part of the English language.


(NOO-speek, NYOO-)

noun: Deliberately ambiguous or euphemistic language used for propaganda.

Coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984. Newspeak was the official language of Oceania. Earliest documented use: 1949.

Oldspeak is the opposite of newspeak. For example, in 1984, the oldspeak “labor camp” is called a newspeak “joycamp”. But you don’t have to go to fiction to find newspeak.

What is “torture” in oldspeak becomes “interrogation”, or even better, “enhanced interrogation” in newspeak. While “waterboarding” itself is newspeak -- no, it’s not a water sport -- they go one step further and couch it as “enhanced interrogation”. As if in regular interrogation one is suffocated with regular water while waterboarding, but in enhanced they use nothing less than Evian.

“In current newspeak, limiting compensation for unfair dismissal is described as a ‘brave reform’, whereas limiting the gains from stock options that an executive may receive through such firings is seen as demagoguery.”
Alain Supiot; A Labour Code for the 21st Century; Le Monde Diplomatique, English ed. (Paris, France); May 2018.

See more usage examples of newspeak in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it. -Alfred Hitchcock, film-maker (13 Aug 1899-1980)

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