George Orwell's Newspeak is an interesting language not just because it shows how government can control and manipulate ideas through language, but also because its differences and similarities with English make it very interesting to "translate" English speech and text into Newspeak and compare the original with the result. However, to effectively and accurately do this, it is important to be familiar with all grammatical differences and anomalies present in Newspeak, as well as a core understanding of both the novel 1984 and the philosophy and nature of fictional Oceania's ruling Party.
In 1984, Newspeak is portrayed as a language that is being constantly developed and altered into new "Editions" to show the Party's ever-closing grip on thought. The iteration of Newspeak demonstrated in the novel, the Eleventh Edition, while detailed, is not complete enough for the construction of detailed phrases or messages. This more complete version, which allows for direct, unambiguous translation from English, is meant as the direct continuation of the Eleventh Edition, and is therefore known as the Twelfth Edition. The Twelfth Edition is rooted firmly in the Eleventh, and all new rules and examples have been logically ascertained from the principles and rules of Newspeak that were given in the novel.
This page is meant as a book of rules to follow when translating English to Newspeak, and as such is made as clear as possible to minimize confusion and make translating easy and fun. All rules are followed by examples, which follow an "English=Newspeak" formula: on the left is an English word or phrase, and on the right is the Newspeak word or phrase it becomes.
Golden Rule Edit
Three key ideas are crucial to understanding the departures 12th Edition Newspeak makes from English and from 11th Edition Newspeak. The specific rules below may not contain the answer to a translating dilemma, and you may have to work out the problem yourself. When doing this, remember the golden rule:
Reduction is Expansion Edit
Whenever possible, make Newspeak smaller. If you think a word should be absorbed into another (see rule 6), go for it. If you can replace a word with a modification of another word, do it. If you can abbreviate a political term, do it. Newspeak translation is uncharted territory, and it's up to you to do the foraging.
- All except the most basic adjectives, like good, small, and sad, do not exist in Newspeak. all other adjectives are expressed as whatever surviving adjective best fits their definition.
- To give adjectives stronger meanings, add the prefixes "plus-" and "doubleplus-".
- If two adjectives are opposites of each other, like hot and cold or big and small, one word is elimlinated and its meaning is expressed by the negative of the other word, which is created by adding the prefix "un-". When in doubt, if you don't know which adjective stays and which doesn't, keep the one with less positive nuances.
- The "plus-" and "doubleplus-" rule applies to negative adjectives as well as positive ones.
- With only two exceptions (to be and to have), the past tense of all verbs is formed by adding the suffix "-ed".
- If all uses of a verb can be expressed by a noun, the verb is abolished and its definition is absorbed by the noun, which becomes a new word type called a noun-verb. If you don't know whether a verb should be absorbed into a noun, ask yourself if the verb would logically be used in relation to other nouns in the world of 1984. For example, the verb "read" wouldn't be absorbed into "book", because in Oceania you can also read a newspaper or a poster. However, the verb "shoot" may be absorbed into the word "gun" or "rifle" or any other firearm, because in the setting of 1984, where bows and arrows are obsolete, you are unlikely to shoot anything else.
- He chopped the vegetables=He knifed the vegetables
- He tied the rope=He knotted the rope
- He wrote the letter=He penned the letter
- To form adjectives that do not have an equivalent in Newspeak,, attach the suffix "-ful" to the end of the closest adjective, noun or verb.
- To form adverbs, add the suffix "-wise" to the appropriate noun or adjective. For adjectives like the ones in rule 7, replace "-ful" with "-wise".
- If the meaning of an adjective can be expressed by a suffixed noun, the adjective is absorbed by the noun similarly to verbs, and the noun becomes another type of word called an adnoun.
- For a noun that encompasses more than one other noun, such as types of trees, shades of colors, or breeds of dog, all sub-nouns are expressed by the one parent noun.
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