What are the dangers of language, according to 1984?

According to 1984, the great danger of language is that when it is corrupted, quality of thought is corrupted along with it. Thought is dependent on words, meaning that if language is restricted so that there are no words to express a particular thought, it quickly becomes unthinkable.

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In his essay "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell wrote that "if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought." Orwell's exploration of Newspeak in 1984 demonstrates at length exactly how this corruption can occur.

English, which is described as the lingua franca of Oceania, is a language with an immense vocabulary, due to its descent from both Anglo-Saxon and Latin and its frequent borrowing from other languages. This expansiveness has normally been considered a good thing, but it does not suit the purposes of the Party. Newspeak, therefore, is designed to contract the range of language until unorthodox thoughts become unsayable. Since thought is dependent on words, an idea that has become unsayable quickly also becomes unthinkable.

Orwell explains that not only is the number of words in Newspeak reduced, but the flexibility of those words is also diminished. He gives the example of the word equal. In Newspeak, this means "exactly the same," making nonsense of the idea that all people are equal. Since it is clearly not true that all people are of the same height, the same weight and the same intelligence, this concept is simply wrong. The idea that all people are politically equal and have the same rights under the law has ceased to exist, and the range of the human intellect has therefore been diminished.

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