from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In order to realize INGSOC (English Socialism) in Oceania , “the party” developed Newspeak as a semantically and technically controlled form of expression. This language policy instrument serves to generate and secure politically correct ideas among all members of the population.

Newspeak ( english Newspeak ) is the language policy remodeled language in George Orwell's dystopischem novel 1984 . By language planning linguistic expression are limited and freedom of thought are repealed. The fictional totalitarian state of Oceania developed this form of language in order to anchor the ideology of "Ingsoc" (English Socialism) in the subconscious of the people.

Newspeak is used in a figurative sense as a designation for forms of language or linguistic means that are consciously changed through language manipulation in order to hide facts and disguise the goals or ideologies of the users.

In cognitive science , experimental research is carried out into how deeply rooted linguistic-metaphorical frames largely unconsciously determine political perception , semantic classification and, depending on this, political action .

Meaning in the novel

In Newspeak , in older translations also Newspeak called, is a nationally standardized, regulated and controlled form of language whose substrate is the language originally spoken, the Altsprech. Here are grammatical rules limited, and the vocabulary total downsized , simplified and restricted. The individual words are determined in terms of their form, composition and meaning . Special politically central terms are newly created or modified according to certain rules of morphology .

Language-political function in Oceania

The aim of these language policy measures is to restrict and control the freedom of thought and thus personal identity , the expression of personal opinion and ultimately free will through the individual's communication and expression possibilities . The state leadership sees individual freedom as a threat to the ideology supposedly serving the social welfare (Ingsoc), internal security and the defense against the possibly fictitious foreign policy opponent and thus the power of the government of Big Brother and the party. Different forms of language are sanctioned and criminalized, for example as thought crimes . The "wrong" thoughts corresponding to the "wrong words" should be made psychologically impossible by preventing them from expressing themselves. The language regulation is intended to manipulate the population in such a way that they cannot even think of an uprising because they lack the words for it. Thus the regime shows its totalitarian limit claim, not only the behavior of people externally by law ( authoritarian ), but to create a new man in a new society that believes think for themselves and do want , what to think and do should .

Newspeak vocabulary and grammar

Vocabulary system

The lexicon is divided into three areas, A, B and C by the language planners . A concerns the vocabulary of politics-free everyday language. Part B contains the political vocabulary. Part C contains technical terms for the world of work.

Word formation and inflection

The grammar of Newspeak is characterized by two features: (i) linguistic functions are interchangeable ( substantivation , desubstantivation , adjective formation, etc.); (ii) Inflected forms are simplified, exceptions and irregularities are eliminated.


Newspeak has no antonyms , so the prefix un- is used for word formation. From hot is unkalt . The lexicographers of the party usually keep the unpleasant-looking word with negative or pejorative connotations , i.e. cold , in order to form the positive through negation. Unkalt for hot is unwarm preferred for cold. In evaluative terms such as bad or evil (Engl. Bad) but the word offense formed. When prefixing a verb, the prefix expresses a prohibition that must be observed. Unproceed (do not continue) then means Do not proceed! (Don't go any further!).

Plus and double plus replace the forms of intensification and reinforcing expressions.


  • -ful is used as a suffix to form adjectives ( speedful instead of rapid ).
  • -ed forms past tenses and participles, which leads to an extreme reduction and unification of the words.
  • -wise is used to form adverbs ( quickly becomes speedwise ).


Ambiguities and nuances should be eliminated, simple ideas should take the place of the complicated ones, the language should depict simple thoughts and feelings: pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, goodthink and crimethink . Since simple deductions can be made from a few word roots, many words disappear. The word think stands for thought and thought, so the word thought can be eliminated.


The way of speaking should also be changed to a non-stop, fast and toneless staccato . This promotes the “automatic”, i.e. thoughtless and almost unconscious speaking, whereby critical thoughts are suppressed in the speaker, but are noticeable in the observation of others by telltale deviation from the way of speaking. Only those who effortlessly swim with the general flow of speech and thoughts do not attract attention. This intonation is also a characteristic of the duckspeak and is also promoted by the language structure of the new words.

What was required, above all for political purposes, was short clipped words of unmistakable meaning which could be uttered rapidly and which roused the minimum of echoes in the speaker's mind. The words of the B vocabulary even gained in force from the fact that nearly all of them were very much alike. Almost invariably these words - goodthink, Minipax, prolefeed, sexcrime, joycamp, Ingsoc, bellyfeel, thinkpol, and countless others - were words of two or three syllables, with the stress distributed equally between the first syllable and the last. The use of them encouraged a gabbling style of speech, at once staccato and monotonous. And this was exactly what was aimed at. The intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject, not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness. For the purposes of everyday life it was no doubt necessary, or sometimes necessary, to reflect before speaking, but a Party member called upon to make a political or ethical judgment should be able to spray forth the correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun spraying forth bullets. His training fitted him to do this, the language gave him an almost foolproof instrument, and the texture of the words, with their harsh sound and a certain wilful ugliness which was in accord with the spirit of Ingsoc, assisted the process still further.

It was necessary, especially for political purposes, to have short, choppy words with unmistakable meanings, which could be pronounced quickly and caused only a minimum of echo in the speaker's mind. The words in the B vocabulary were particularly effective because they were almost all very similar. Almost without exception, these words - goodthink, Minipax, prolefeed, sexcrime, joycamp, Ingsoc, bellyfeel, thinkpol, and many others - were two- or three-syllable and the stress was evenly between the first and last syllable. The use of these words resulted in a babbling manner of speech, both choppy and monotonous. That was exactly the goal. The intention was to decouple language from consciousness as much as possible, especially language about non-ideological subjects. In everyday life it was undoubtedly necessary or sometimes necessary to think before speaking, but a party member called upon to make political or ethical judgment should be able to fire correct opinions as automatically as a machine gun fires its bullets. His training enabled him to do this, the language was an almost foolproof tool and the structure of the words, with their harsh sound and the certain intended ugliness that corresponded to the spirit of Ingsoc, further supported the process.

Long-term enforcement of Newspeak

The government’s language policy is to ensure that all members of society, except for the proles, communicate exclusively in this form of language. This goal should be achieved in 2050. In the 66 years of the interim should Oldspeak (the English-80s) by Newspeak still largely restricted and finally eliminated. Looking back on previous efforts, it is mentioned that older books, e.g. B. Shakespeare's plays have been rewritten to meet the new requirements. At the time of the novel, in 1984, Newspeak was not yet fully developed. The appendix describes previous attempts to enforce Newspeak and is still written in standard English ( old speech in Newspeak).

In the novel, the character Syme explains her work on the latest edition of the Newspeak dictionary.

By 2050 - earlier, probably - all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer , Shakespeare , Milton , Byron - they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of The Party will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like “Freedom is Slavery” when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking - not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.

By 2050 - probably even sooner - all actual knowledge of old speech will have disappeared. All literature of the past will be destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron - they will only be available in Newspeak versions. They will not be changed into something else, but will be the opposite of what they were before. Even the party literature is being changed. Even the slogans are exchanged. How can you keep a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole mental climate will be different. In fact, there will be no more thoughts as we understand them today. Having the right mind means that you don't think, you don't need to think. The right mind is unconscious.

Interpretation of Newspeak in Orwell's novel

Criticism of the totalitarian regimes of his time

Orwell was familiar with the terminology of Soviet and German political propaganda through his work in the BBC's propaganda department, but was particularly familiar with Japanese, which was his specialty. Many of his observations of the functioning of totalitarian systems were incorporated into his conception of Newspeak, especially the function of the concepts of switching off thinking or directing it in a certain direction. The abbreviations of the ministries were copied from Soviet usage.

Criticism of general tendencies in politics

Orwell's draft of a dehumanized language should not only be restricted to his critical attitude towards totalitarian regimes of his time. In his construct he also wanted to push the linguistic tendencies of his time to extremes.

Satire in Basic English

Newspeak as a planned language is similar to Basic English , a special form of English by Charles Kay Ogden and IA Richards , which Orwell initially advocated in 1942-44, but then rejected in his essay "Politics and the English Language" (1946). The main argument was the inadequate use of language at the time, namely reduced metaphor and a pretentious and lofty style that generates meaningless words that are the result of a lack of clarity of thought. Orwell's conclusion from these observations is the diagnosis of general decline in speech. Newspeak can be understood as satire in Basic English.

Orwell's theory of language

In his research on Orwell's theory of language, Andrei Reznikow comes to the conclusion that Orwell in his essays viewed the problem of the political instrumentalization of language as a fundamental problem in general, not just as a special problem of totalitarian states. Reznikov points out that Orwell studied Swift's language of horses, Houyhnhnm , Charles Ogden, and Hayek's writing on bondage . According to Reznikow, Orwell saw a connection between the form of language and the form of society in a continuum between the nonexistent extremes of complete freedom or complete servitude. In his opinion, every society and every form of language lay between these extremes and could develop in one direction or another. He saw the solution to the problem in avoiding certain words and inventing more suitable words in order to create a freer language. Word research should become as important as, say, Shakespeare research for this purpose. In his opinion, the freedom of a society and its language was to be measured, for example, by whether its means of expression, especially its vocabulary, were simplified or enriched.

Orwell's Newspeak neologisms in the 1984 novel

In addition to quotations that reinterpret the terms of normal language, Newspeak manifests itself through the introduction of empty words. A number of contractions and abbreviations are also introduced. Among other things, existing word stems are combined into terms that are useful for the prevailing ideology . In addition, euphemisms or disguising terms such as vaporize for killing or erasing from memory are also used.

Double thinking

Doublethink , in older translation doublethink (Engl. Doublethink ) refers to the ability to accept two conflicting ways of thinking simultaneously be true.


Deldenk, in older translations Undenk or Verbrechdenk (Engl. Crimethink ) refers to a thought crime (thoughtcrime) , an imaginary criticism of the doctrine of the government or even an in-considering-hauling other thoughts.


In face crime, someone's expression shows that they are guilty of a thought crime.

Quack talk

Quaksprech, in older translations Entenquak (Engl. Duck speak to speak) means without thinking, so to cackle like a duck. Depending on the application, this expression can be meant to be praiseworthy (for people with the same opinion that is loyal to the government) or to express abuse (for people with a different opinion than Big Brother's ).


Crime stop (English Delstop ) is the method to avoid thought crimes by automatically diverting the stream of thoughts when it touches unpleasant topics critical of the government .

Good thinker

A Gutdenker (Engl. Good thinker ) is an "orthodox" person without effort no uneasy has thoughts.


Vaporizing (derived from the Latin root word for vaporize ) means to wipe out a person, not only physically, but also in the consciousness of those around them. All records and memories of a non-person must be erased from collective memory and communicative memory . Everyone has to forget that the non-person ever lived. This is an analogy to the Stalinist practice of retouching unwanted people from photos or removing them from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia , which in turn is a modern variant of the Damnatio memoriae already practiced in antiquity .


Non-person refers to a person to be vaporized. Even the mention of a non-person is a thought crime and impossible in Newspeak, since the word itself is taboo . This is also an analogy to the Stalinist treatment of undesirable people.


The concept of freedom in the political sense or the word free in the sense of active freedom of action and freedom of choice in relation to existing possibilities for action have been removed and only means without hindrance by something (free from lice, free from weeds) .


Ministries are abbreviated in analogy to Soviet terms

  • Miniwahr (English Minitrue ): Ministry of Truth ( Propaganda )
  • Minipax (English Minipax ): Ministry for Peace (War)
  • Minifülle (in older translations Minifluss ) (English Miniplenty ): Ministry of Abundance (rationing)
  • Mini Lieb (engl. Miniluv ): Ministry of Love (law and order)

More expressions

  • Artsem: Artificial insemination .
  • BB: Big Brother.
  • Day order: Order of the day.
  • Ingsoc: English Socialism.
  • Issue: children created by gut sex
  • Joycamp: Forced Labor Camp .
  • Malquoted: Correct quote, but it is undesirable
  • Oldspeak: the old language form to be abolished
  • Oldthink: the old form of consciousness to be abolished before the revolution
  • Pornosec: Minitrue's pornography division, produces pornography to satisfy the needs of proles
  • Prolefeed: cultural offers for the proles that suit their taste
  • Recdep: Minitrue department for the rewriting of all documents according to the party line
  • Rectify: euphemism for the description of all historical documents and representations
  • Speakwrite: A machine that transcribes spoken language, i.e. writes it down.
  • Thinkpol: Thought Police
  • Upsub: Adaptation of documents to the wishes of the superiors


  • War is peace
  • Freedom is slavery
  • Ignorance is strength

Usage of the term today

In an article in Die Zeit, Josef Joffe criticized the current use of newly created words in Political Correctness for linguistic concealment, emphasizing in particular euphemisms . With Tocqueville , he includes democracy in the problem of voice control:

The work of the Thought Police is done by democracy itself by imposing the “correct attitude, wrote the clairvoyant French 180 years ago. “The majority surrounds freedom of expression with a towering wall.” Inside, anyone can say anything, but woe betide him if he breaks out. “He may not face the stake, but contempt. "

In 2008 Martin Haase lectured on Newspeak in the surveillance state at the Chaos Communication Congress . Kai Biermann took up this and wrote an article in Zeit Online , which gave the impetus to set up a joint blog. In 2011, they received a Grimme Online Award in the Knowledge and Education category for the Neusprechblog . The content of the blog was published in book form in 2012: Sprachlügen: Unwords and Newspeak from "nuclear ruins" to "timely". Haase criticized today's Newspeak as "political language in which strategies are used to create fog and pleasantly depict the unpopular." If, for example, those responsible today are often referred to as "decision-makers", the concept of responsibility disappears . Newspeak can be recognized by emphasized exaggerations, strange formulations, passive constructions that conceal the actor and new words , such as English expressions such as targeted killing, which do not even exist in English.

The term alternative facts is a phrase coined by US Presidential Advisor Kellyanne Conway in 2017 for "refutable false claims". Her utterance was interpreted as a form of Newspeak from Orwell's novel, as she simply lied, but covered this with the expression. President Donald Trump's style of speaking was also associated with Newspeak: "Trump's child babble is a contemporary form of 'Newspeak'".

Newspeak vocabulary is criticized in many directions, the use of language by the government as well as the government opponents and all political groups among themselves. The criticism of newspeak vocabulary is also associated with populism .

Parallel formations


In the reports of the World Bank, the historian Dominique Pestre and the literary scholar Franco Moretti noted linguistic changes. Responsible persons were not named, the presentation was vague and nebulous, verbs had been replaced by nouns and words such as poverty had disappeared, as had temporal references that had been made clear 20 years earlier by adverbs and verb tenses. On the other hand, the vocabulary would not be reduced, as in Orwell's imagination, but expanded, for example through a flood of abbreviations. Complex terms like government would be replaced by meaningless one-dimensional and purely positive terms like governance , instead of poverty, food security would be spoken of.

Marketing Spoken

Josef Joffe criticized the jargon of marketing based on the presentation of language on the slides of PowerPoint presentations . Everything that makes understanding is missing.

"Thoughts are hacked up, the relationships between them eliminated (" eliminated "). What is important, what comes before, what after? Ordered thinking is fooled by the rigorous structure; in fact, causalities and premises are flattened, the listener is manipulated. "

Joffe identifies the generic as characteristics, i.e. commonplace and redundancy . "But dull language also dulls the brain - of both the speaker and the listener."

Political Speech

In their little encyclopedia of myths , Stephan Hebel and Daniel Baumann want to make it clear which secret intentions and power relationships are hidden behind the euphemisms of political speech. Politicians speak “in a kind of Ikea language: every phrase is a prefabricated kit.” The reader should learn to see through the codes of power in the “Lingua Blablativa” ( Niklas Luhmann ), which not only forms a veil of fog in front of ideology, but it also changes and shapes the idea of ​​reality, as Hebel explains following Bourdieu , Greiffenhagen and Eppler . He quotes Nietzsche: "It is enough to create new names and estimates and probabilities in order to create new 'things' in the long run." Topics in the good-power stories include flexibility , demographic catastrophe , black zero , the socially weak , Reduction of ancillary wage costs and reduction of bureaucracy .

Language and Politics in Cognitive Science

Cognitive linguistics and cognitive science explore how political language influences thinking. "Our supposedly free thinking is influenced by those who consciously introduce certain metaphors into public discussion, " state George Lakoff and Elisabeth Wehling . In any case, the power of the better argument is not far off. The human brain works differently. Frames , collective cognitive frames of interpretation that are deeply anchored in us, shape our thinking.

Wehling works out how language unconsciously determines political thinking and action through its metaphor and connection to cognitive frames. Metaphorical terms are not just stylistic devices here, but are conceptual metaphors. People can only perceive, interpret and deal with abstract facts through visualization, which go back to experiences in their own living environment. According to Eppler's assessment, Wehling analyzes how key words have given political issues a frame that makes them submissive to dominant interests.

.. in political debates (are) not facts in and of themselves decisive ... but conceptual frames of interpretation, called frames in cognitive science. Frames are activated by language in the brain.

Examples of today's Newspeak terms and slogans

  • robust stabilization deployment instead of war
  • Austerity package instead of a legal package with savings: Reduction of expenditure mostly in the area of ​​education and social affairs, rarely in military expenditure
  • There is no alternative instead of rejecting any other option for political reasons
  • Collateral damage or accompanying damage instead of accepting apparently inevitable killings or injuries to innocent and innocent people
  • Tax haven : implies that “tax evasion” is innocent and understandable, since taxfigures are associatedwith desert and tax avoidance with saving from dying of thirst.
  • Danger : Linguistic new coinage from the Ministry of the Interior. It is largely innocent people who are suspected on the basis of general personality traits. The term undermines the presumption of innocence, according to the TAZ. "The term is intended to make it possible to treat people who have not done anything criminal as criminals, and is therefore part of a linguistic armament that should not be parroted undifferentiated by the media."

See also


Orwell's Newspeak

To modern Newspeak in general

Web links

Wiktionary: Newspeak  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. George Orwell (1980) p. 917.
  2. Newspeak - Wiktionary. Retrieved February 26, 2017 .
  3. ^ The Oxford Companion to the English Language , Tom McArthur, Ed. (1992) p. 693.
  4. Sparknotes on Newspeak accessdate = 2017-01-26
  5. Moellerlit Newspeak dictionary accessdate = 2017-01-16
  6. George Orwell (1980) pp. 918-19.
  7. George Orwell (1980) p. 917.
  8. George Orwell (1980) p. 917.
  9. ^ John Wesley Young: Totalitarian Language: Orwell's Newspeak and its Nazi and Communist Antecedents. University Press of Virginia 1991.
  10. George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four . Secker and Warburg, 1949, ISBN 978-0-452-28423-4 .
  11. ^ Andrei Reznikov: George Orwell's Theory of Language . iUniverse, 2001, ISBN 978-0-595-19320-2 , pp. 101 ff . ( [accessed on February 27, 2017]).
  12. ^ - Admonitions from a Liberal . In: Deutschlandradio Kultur . ( [accessed on February 27, 2017] further evidence on Hayek's influence).
  13. ^ Political Correctness: Newspeak and Gutdenk . In: Die Zeit , April 16, 2010. Retrieved April 12, 2012
  14. Martin Haase : Newspeak in the surveillance state. (PDF file; 151 KB)
  15. ↑ German Interior Minister: Des Schäuble's small dictionary. In: Zeit Online , September 14, 2009.
  16. Via on Retrieved April 12, 2012
  17. ↑ No alternative, episode 12 . Podcast , 79 minutes.
  18. Grimme Online Award - Explanation Neusprechblog ( Memento from July 6, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  19. Erik Wenk: Linguistics professor on political speech: "Strategy to generate fog" . In: the daily newspaper . ( [accessed on March 15, 2017]).
  20. Trump's new horror world: These things from Orwell's "1984" are already a reality. Retrieved February 26, 2017 .
  21. ^ Andrea Diener : CCC Congress: The Language of the Populists . In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . December 28, 2016, ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed February 26, 2017]).
  22. Bankspeak: Computers expose the Newspeak of the World Bank - language less and less concrete - WELT. Retrieved March 15, 2017 .
  23. ^ Josef Joffe: Language criticism : Thrown on the wall . In: The time . July 28, 2007, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed March 19, 2017]).
  24. Frankfurter Rundschau: "Good Power Stories": Powerful phrases. Retrieved January 20, 2019 .
  25. - The subtle power of the word . In: Deutschlandfunk . ( [accessed on February 27, 2017]).
  26. Elisabeth Wehling : Political Framing - How Germany tells itself political truths - and turns them into politics . P. 15f.
  27. ^ Elisabeth Wehling: Political Framing - How Germany tells itself political truths, p. 17
  28. Kai Biermann, Martin Haase: Sprachlügen: Unwords and Newspeak from »atomic ruins« to »timely« . FISCHER E-Books, 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-402397-7 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  29. Kai Biermann, Martin Haase: Sprachlügen: Unwords and Newspeak from »atomic ruins« to »timely« . FISCHER E-Books, 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-402397-7 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  30. Kai Biermann, Martin Haase: Sprachlügen: Unwords and Newspeak from »atomic ruins« to »timely« . FISCHER E-Books, 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-402397-7 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  31. Kai Biermann, Martin Haase: Sprachlügen: Unwords and Newspeak from »atomic ruins« to »timely« . FISCHER E-Books, 2012, ISBN 978-3-10-402397-7 ( [accessed on February 26, 2017]).
  32. Elisabeth Wehling : Political Framing - How Germany tells itself political truths - and turns them into politics . P. 84ff.
  33. Erik Wenk: The term "dangerous": linguistic armament . In: the daily newspaper . ( [accessed on March 15, 2017]).