Tuesday, November 08, 2022

Newspeak

Newspeak occurs when the primary purpose of language - which is to describe reality - is replaced by the rival purpose of asserting power over it. The fundamental speech-act is only superficially represented by the assertoric grammar. Newspeak sentences sound like assertions, but their underlying logic is that of the spell. They conjure the triumph of words over things, the futility of rational argument, and also the danger of resistance. As a result Newspeak developed its own special syntax, which - while closely related to the syntax deployed in ordinary descriptions - carefully avoids any encounter with reality or any exposure to the logic of rational argument. Fran├žoise Thom has argued this in her brilliant study La langue de bois. The purpose of communist Newspeak, in Thom's ironical words, has been 'to protect ideology from malicious attacks of real things'.

- Roger Scruton, Fools, Frauds and Firebrands

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