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What function does the artificial slang- "Nadsat"- serve in A Clockwork Orange?

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marlon0607 | Student, Grade 11 | Honors

Posted August 1, 2012 at 7:01 PM via web

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What function does the artificial slang- "Nadsat"- serve in A Clockwork Orange?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 2, 2012 at 4:14 AM (Answer #1)

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I think that Nadsat serves a couple of functions in Burgess' work.  One such function is that it provides a type of vocabulary that only Alex and his clique understand.  It is a form of rebellion against the world as well as a statement of power in that Alex has constructed a language that is relevant to him and something that the rest of the world cannot comprehend.  The use of Nadsat as a language helps to convey the slang element, but also provides a time- oriented context to the novel that prevents it from being dated.  In using a slang that few understand, Burgess maintains the idea that the language that Alex uses is continually in vogue, making it so that the reader too is part of the structure that Alex rebels against.  This helps to maintain the thematic relevance of the novel.  The use of Nadsat helps to establish a form of power that Alex has over the people around him and thus the reader, as well.  In its use, it becomes clearly evident that the slang helps to create an "other- world" quality, one that causes the reader to approach Alex with an understanding that while part of what is happening is adolescent, there is something deeper and more profound at play here.  It is this questioning that becomes one of Burgess' primary motivations as the author.

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