Remember the creepy way that the government used language in the book 1984 by George Orwell? It was called Newspeak. They'd call things "doubleplusgood" instead of "awesome," and "unperson" instead of "victim." The point is that Newspeak limited and controlled what people could say, and therefore limited and controlled what they could think. (Again--creepy!)
So in general, when you call a word or phrase Newspeak, you mean it's language that's fake or vague in a creepy, controlling way.
Part of speech:
(Like “milk,” “rice,” and “education,” uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about “some milk,” “the rice,” and “a lot of education,” but you don’t say “a milk,” “three rices,” or “many educations.”
Likewise, talk about “the Newspeak,” “such Newspeak,” “a lot of Newspeak,” “no Newspeak,” and so on, but don’t say “Newspeaks.”)
How to use it:
This word always has a negative, critical tone. You use it to point out the vague, meaningless, impersonal, deceptive, or controlling way that bureaucracies, governments, companies, and others use words.
And you can either capitalize it or not. Your choice. If you capitalize it, you're staying true to how Orwell treated "Newspeak" like a proper noun. Or you can use a lowercase "n" and treat it like a common noun--a lot of people do these days.
So, talk about the Newspeak of a certain group or sphere of activity, as in "the Newspeak of academics" or "academic Newspeak."
Or, treat Newspeak as a foreign language to be translated: say that some particular word or phrase is Newspeak for the true meaning, or that the true meaningis some particular word or phrase in Newspeak: "'prior written notice' is Newspeak for 'we gave you plenty of time'" (or "'we gave you plenty of time' in Newspeak is 'prior written notice.'")
You can also just talk about Newspeak in general: babbling in Newspeak, banning or eliminating Newspeak, irritating people with your Newspeak, an industry that keeps generating more and more of its own Newspeak, etc.
In the Newspeak of women's fashion magazines, I should be "melting away" any holiday weight gain, as if it were a process of heating myself up on a stove instead of working hard every day to make smart choices about food and exercise.
Their ten-page report is so riddled with businessy Newspeak that I bet I could write a one-page plain English version of it.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "Newspeak" means when you can explain it without saying "euphemisms" or "jargon."
Think of a time you realized people were talking a lot without really saying anything, and fill in the blanks: "Their (certain type of) Newspeak was a thin disguise for the (unoriginality / simplicity / stupidity, etc.) of their ideas."
Example: "Their political Newspeak was a thin disguise for the simplicity of their ideas."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with some fascinating thematic word lists assembled by Stephen Chrisomalis, an English language expert over at The Phrontistery who kindly gave permission for me to use his work. (Check out his site; you will definitely enjoy it!)
Try a question each day, and see the right answers here the following day--or if you can't wait, follow the link to Stephen's list to dig out the answers yourself. Have fun!
What does an entomophagous creature eat? And what does a piscivorous creature eat? How about a foliophagous creature?
Respectively, these creatures eat insects, fish, and leaves.
Try this one today:
Something amygdaloid is shaped like an almond. What is something arborescent shaped like? How about something capriform? And something medusiform?
Can't wait until tomorrow for the right answers? Check out Stephen's full list and discussion at the Phrontistery.
A Point Well Made:
John Steinbeck: "Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast."
1. The opposite of NEWSPEAK is
A. OLD, WORN-OUT, CLICHED LANGUAGE
B. RICH, VARIED, EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE
C. FUNNY, EDGY, YOUTHFUL LANGUAGE
2. I assume _____ is Newspeak for _____
A. "data-driven decisions" .. "doing things that make sense."
B. "Oscar-worthy performance" .. "an incredible dramatic performance."
C. "buck up, Little Camper" .. "don't worry, it'll be okay."
Answers are below.
To be a sponsor and send your own message to readers of this list, please contact Liesl at Liesl@HiloTutor.com.
Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Today's word comes from 1984, one of those dystopian books that you probably had to read in high school. Because they're just so popular, probably, I've referenced other dystopian stories in the following examples for other words. See if you can recall those words:
"A dystopian novel like Divergent shows us what would happen if we narrow down our W_____sch____ngen too much, placing ourselves in isolated categories like Erudite and Dauntless." (That long word starting with a capital W means "individual people's views of the world.")
"In much of dystopian fiction, the story opens after a p_____ic has already ravaged the population." (That word means "a widespread disease.")
Subscribe to "Make Your Point" for a daily vocabulary boost.