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Post by PVelascoT11A on Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:26 pm


Language, with all its derivates, theories, etc. is actually the kingdom of philosophical life; Ludwig Wittgenstein said once that limits of life are directly related with language limits (Wittgenstein, 1921)1 which takes us to conclude that our life is guided in some way by our language. I really agree with such theory, because I really believe that language has a lot of functions over us, beginning with the conceptualization; even if human as a race created the language, now language can control human. Talking about concepts, everything around us is conceptualized, even the unknown and imaginary thinks, unicorns, for example; we have the concept of “unicorn” as an imaginary animal that doesn't exists, and this takes us to the Saphy-Whorff theory (Saphy-Whorff, 1983)2, which establishes a relation between culture, language, and literature, unicorns are a symbol of a few things in some cultures, and it has a meaning on language, that has been taken also for literature on fictional productions. Basically, language surrounds us in any aspect, and as I said, we may think that we are the ones that control language, but actually language can control us too, and George Orwell’s book, 1984, is a great demonstration of it.

Orwell’s novel shows the oppression and management of a totalitarian government over people from Oceania, but this oppression is really extreme, with a lot of aspects influencing it, the biggest of them: language. What the INGSOC party wants is an absolute control of people on Oceania, which isn't too difficult with the way of developing the process that will take them to achieve their goal. That way and path that they’re following is what is really related with language: first, the newspeak in some way, makes easier the work of controlling minds, because reduces the mind capacity just based on a new language. Second, the manipulation of literary and communicative productions; there’a a ministry (minitrue) in charge of changing the old literature pieces that include characteristics from the past, for characteristics of the party, then they sell the idea of reality in such productions as if they were original, I mean, they make people forget everything before the revolution, and everything that could affect their party principles and ideology. Nothing is original then, because the party steps pass over any original thing, transforming it into his own way, always according to what is convenient.

         Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? […] already we know almost literally nothing about the revolution and the years before the revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, and every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. [..] The past is falsified, but it would never be possible for me to prove it, even when I did the falsification myself. After the thing is done, no evidence ever remains. The only evidence is inside my own mind, and I don't know with any certainty that any other human being shares my memories. (George Orwell, 1949, pg 155)3

The quote above was said by the main character of the book, Winston Smith, who actually recognizes the manipulation because he is in charge of this work that consist on changing everything, and even if he does, his memories about the past are too scarce, why? Because of the power that language has, as soon as any historical thing is communicated (language), it is changed, then what used to be the past, is different then. Basically its power is that big, that has the ability of changing what for us is unchangeable: time, past time. Nowadays, on 21st century, we are not able to getting back to the past, neither changing it, even if we have the technology that we have nowadays, then it is still unchangeable, but in 1084 it isn't impossible due to the language and its strength. This concept of “past” is mentioned by Orwell with the adjective of “mutability”, which is really true, with newspeak and the INGSOC, even denying someone's existence is possible, as the Syme’s (Winston’s friend) situation, Smith just knew that his friend “died” because he didn’t appear in a list, which means, according to the party ideal, that he never existed, his absolutely unknown, he’s forgotten. If it's possible with a persons’s life, why it could be impossible with past-history? Later, they were even able to make politic and literature events of five years obsolete, as Orwell said, changing every single literary production of those years: since just one word, until the whole production if it was necessary.

Language is known as any form of communication, and this was another advantage for the party, for example in the lotteries, which has big prices, but the party take advantage of it creating false winners, I mean, the biggest prices were for none exist people, and they never knew it because of the degradation of communication: the party made that people wasn't able to talk too much, almost nothing, then they didn't knew if the person that is said that won, is real. It's all a manipulation of language and communication, as I said, always according to what is convenient.

Talking about language, is impossible not to talk about oral tradition, and even more if we are taking about 1984 too, where oral tradition, in vulnerability, is denigrated and violated. There’s a list of aspects that influence the importance of oral tradition, we can begin talking about it just since our own culture in Latin America, our ancient indigenous tribes began with the oral tradition, which nowadays man was help us to know about historical events, etc. It's a process really fructose by the time of preserving culture and history. In the book context; this is evident since the character “Charrington” appears, this man is too important for Winston because of his age memory, I mean, as he’s old, he has in his memory really old events that just d people have because of the manipulation of the party with the news, books, etc. his ma memory saves a lot of details, and those details help to argument why those supposed “truthful” things that historical books say, obviously after passing by minitrue hands. The verses that Charrington shared, are part of a language that saves memories, data useful for reviving the past of Oceania, taking into account that such language from old people was the only hope, everything else is already altered.

       “Statues, inscriptions, memorial stones, the names of streets – anything that might throw light upon the past had been systematically altered” (George Orwell, 1949, pg 98)4

The example I mentioned above is a conventional one, because actually gives hope, but there's another aspect from oral tradition that is the whole contrary; the party leaders are too intelligent they really know how language -and oral tradition- can help to abolish totalitarianism. Kids are easer to control than adults for two reasons, first, they learn just what others teach, basically because knowledge is influenced by the environment that surrounds us on our childhood, and second because they don't have historical memory else than what older people teach them. The party take advantage of this second point by means of family, which becomes an extension of thought police, because they have ten obligation of teaching kids the party’s ideology, with the commandment of spying and confessing any thoughtcrime. This makes easier the work, because kids become prepared from their houses to follow the party's rules, and then it isn't too difficult to control kids minds. All these mechanisms of mind control have language as a structure, as a hard weapon from INGSOC, and it isn't a physical weapon, it's even harder and more dangerous, because is developed on minds and thoughts. Even thought, proles are the hope, beside the brotherhood with knowledge too, spreading the ideas against the party.

      “We can only spread our knowledge outwards from individual yo individual, generation to generation. In the face of the Thought police, there is no other way” (George Orwell, 1949, pg 176)5.

Talking about the brotherhood, the path for spreading this destruction strategy is with the book that includes the truth of society, as is said on the chapter VI from the second part, he had moved from thoughts to words, and now from words to actions (George Orwell, 1949, pg 169)6, then the solution is hidden on language, on thoughts, on words, but they have to past to actions, which is the more difficult part taking into account the security and permanent monitoring of the telescreen.

Language, as its already said, are all communication forms, words aren't necessary at all when language is produced, there's also a non-verbal language; this type of communication is really extended and contain a lot of branches, one of them is the corporal language. It might be incredible that people speaks more with gestures than with words. Every single movement of our body and our face has a hidden message that not anyone discover, sometimes neither we pay attention and understand the meaning of our gestures. In George Orwell’s book, a deep description of every situation and character is identified, I think I know the reason. The main plot of the story tell us the impossibility of free an open communication, then the only way of the author for explaining thoughts from the characters with the narration is with their corporal language, in which he goes really deep.

This is firstly evidenced in a clear and direct way in the description from a Winston of his dream about his mother; what he remembers the most form that dream is a gesture from this mothers, he finds a really deep meaning of it because he feel it as a protective gesture, such gesture is part of a corporal language, and he gave “protective” adjective as the meaning of it.. Later, he also gives a complete description of O’Brien; before talking with him, just with his corporal language he identifies in his face some intelligent airs, I mean, he just with his face concluded that he was a formidable and smart guy, before crossing any single word or having any single conversation.
I little bit later, he also analyses the corporal behavior of the same character (O’Brien), that uses as a descriptive complement of what O’Brien expresses as a person, of what he produces and shows about his self and own personality, as following:

      “His spectacles, his gentle, fussy movements, and the fact that he was wearing an aged jacket of black velvet, gave him a vague air of intellectuality, as though he had been some kind of literary man or perhaps musician” (George Orwell, 1949, pg 94)7.

If language controls the dystopic society that Orwell establishes on his novel, imagine how powerful language on our actual society is, and actually in everything, because everything that surrounds us is language, our life is based on concepts, which come from language, then we are under that cloud. Language can be either a God, a dogma, a dictator, language can be anything that we want, because is actually one of the most powerful intellectual weapons. As it is augmented on this and on many other essays, language isn’t just a set of words that have some sense when they are combined, language is part of linguistic, a whole science that includes some other concepts and branches that explain why and how language is more than words.

1. Taken from “” visited on 2017, may 30.
2. From theory Saphy-Whorff, 1984, editorial from Colorado College.
3. From novel 1984, George Orwell, 1949. Editorial Signet Classics.
4. See reference #3.
5. See reference #3.
6. See reference #3.
7. See reference #3.


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