A Clockwork Orange Questions and Answers
by Anthony Burgess

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What is the function of nadsat in A Clockwork Orange, and how does it shape the reader's response depending on whether they speak Russian or not?

In A Clockwork Orange, the function of nadsat, the dialect used by Alex and his friends, is to show their alienation from the dominant society. A reader who knows Russian will much more easily grasp the language of this subculture. Other readers will experience more disorientation as they struggle to enter Alex's world. Burgess created a Russian-based dialect for the novel so that the slang would not date.

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Nadsat is the Russian-based version of English used by Alex and his friends in the novel. They can use standard English whenever they want or need to. However, they prefer to create an identity and set themselves apart from the dominant culture with the use of this non-standard dialect.

Nadsat helps communicate the alienation of Alex and his peers from the larger society: the two groups literally don't speak the same language. Having to figure out and master nadsat well enough to understand the novel also...

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