How to make a dictionary illegal?
This is a question that came to my mind when I read about the Newspeak in 1984 by George Orwell.
According to The Principles of Newspeak, Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought, and this purpose was indirectly assisted by cutting the choice of words down to a minimum.
Extracted from Part 1 Chapter 5, “Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Already, in the Eleventh Edition, we're not far from that point. But the process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there's no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime. It's merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won't be any need even for that. The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect.”
If Newspeak is real, what will happen to our dictionary? What will be shown if we look up a vocabulary in Google translate? How does it limit our thought? How powerful is language?
Take ‘good’, for instance. If you look for synonyms for ‘good’, you will have acceptable, splendid, excellent, exceptional, favorable, great, marvelous, positive, satisfactory, superb, valuable, wonderful, nice, pleasing, spanking, super, superior, worthy, admirable, agreeable, commendable, deluxe, first-class, honorable, neat, precious, stupendous, super-eminent, super-excellent, tip-top, more and more……. In Newspeak, you only have ‘good’, or ‘Plusgood” or doubleplusgood” for stronger version.
Which one would you prefer to express your real feeling? Would you still say “good” if you meet a super rock star Keanu Reeves?
We have a beautiful array of words to use, each giving us the power to describe our feelings, desires, and queries to the world around us in millions of different ways. Language impacts the daily lives of members of any race, creed, and region of the world. It helps us to communicate, to learn and to understand our cultures and peoples. It is so beautiful to see how people use the words, using words to craft the ideas. Words, phrases and metaphors, they have meaning, they speak something important, they inspire us. Without them, we will not able to ponder and meditate, we lose depth and warmth. Word is art.
How to make a dictionary illegal? Never ever think about it.