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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

name of the artificial language of official communication in George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four," 1949, from new (adj.) + speak (n.). Frequently applied to what is perceived as propagandistic warped English.


n. A mode of talk by politicians and officials using ambiguous words to deceive the listener.


n. deliberately ambiguous and contradictiory language use to mislead and manipulate the public; "the welfare state brought its own newspeak"


Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state Oceania as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace. Any form of thought alternative to the party’s construct is classified as " thoughtcrime".

Newspeak is explained in chapters 4 and 5 of Nineteen Eighty-Four, and in an appendix to the book. The language follows, for the most part, the same grammatical rules as English, but has a much more limiting, and constantly shifting vocabulary. Any synonyms or antonyms, along with undesirable concepts are eradicated. The goal is for everyone except the Proles — the working-class citizens of Oceania — to be speaking this language by the year 2050. In the meantime, Oldspeak (current English) is still in common usage with Newspeak interspersed into conversation.

Orwell was inspired to invent Newspeak by the constructed language Basic English, which he promoted from 1942 to 1944 before emphatically rejecting it in his essay " Politics and the English Language." In this paper he deplores the bad English of his day, citing dying metaphors, pretentious diction or rhetoric, and meaningless words, which he saw as encouraging unclear thought and reasoning. Towards the end of the essay, Orwell states: “I said earlier that the decadence of our language is probably curable. Those who deny this would argue, if they produced an argument at all, that language merely reflects existing social conditions, and that we cannot influence its development by any direct tinkering with words or constructions."

Newspeak's contracted forms, such as Ingsoc and ''Minitrue, ''are inspired by the Russian syllabic abbreviations used for concepts relating to the government and society of the USSR, such as politburo, Comintern, kolkhoz ("collective farm") and'' Komsomol ''("Young Communists' League"), many of which found their way into the speech of Communists in other countries.

Newspeak (programming language)

Newspeak is a programming language and platform in the tradition of Smalltalk and Self being developed by a team led by Gilad Bracha. The platform includes an IDE, a GUI library, and standard libraries. Starting in 2006, Cadence Design Systems funded its development and employed the main contributors, but ceased funding in January 2009.

Newspeak is a class based language. Classes may be nested, as in BETA. This is one of the key differences between Newspeak and Smalltalk. All names in Newspeak are late-bound, and are interpreted as message sends, as in Self.

Newspeak is distinguished by its unusual approach to modularity. The language has no global namespace. Top level classes act as module declarations. Module declarations are first class values (i.e., they may be stored in variables, passed as parameters, returned from methods, etc.) and are stateless.

Usage examples of "newspeak".

He was abusing Big Brother, he was denouncing the dictatorship of the Party, he was demanding the immediate conclusion of peace with Eurasia, he was advocating freedom of speech, freedom of the Press, freedom of assembly, freedom of thought, he was crying hysterically that the revolution had been betrayed -- and all this in rapid polysyllabic speech which was a sort of parody of the habitual style of the orators of the Party, and even contained Newspeak words: more Newspeak words, indeed, than any Party member would normally use in real life.

This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning ' to quack like a duck'.

  This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning ' to quack like a duck'.

Newspeak words were divided into three distinct classes, known as the A vocabulary, the B vocabulary (also called compound words), and the C vocabulary.

And the Records Department, after all, was itself only a single branch of the Ministry of Truth, whose primary job was not to reconstruct the past but to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programmes, plays, novels -- with every conceivable kind of information, instruction, or entertainment, from a statue to a slogan, from a lyric poem to a biological treatise, and from a child's spelling-book to a Newspeak dictionary.

His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by the two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity).

It was expected that Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or Standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2050.