Activity 1.5-6 The World of Doublespeak In Orwell's 1984, doublethink is a form of mind control where a person is able to believe contrary ideas or facts at the same time and to forget that one is consciously doing it. Whatever is deemed to be true by the Inner Party is automatically accepted as true by all Party members even if it contradicts what was said to be true previously. Today the sky is stated by the Party to be green, yesterday it was purple. By using doublethink, both statements are accepted by all as true. Truth is whatever the Party says is true at the moment. This is a satire on the conformity of thought urged and enforced in certain societies during Orwell's time (Germany, Russia, and Spain). Although this extreme form of mass mind control has not taken shape in our present societies, a lesser version has evolved. This version is called doublespeak. What is doublespeak? According to William Lutz, a professor at Rutgers University who has written books on the subject, it is language that attempts to deceive, hides true meaning, and prevents clear thought. Doublespeak is language which pretends to communicate but really doesn't. It is language which makes the bad seem good, the negative appear positive, the unpleasant appear attractive, or at least tolerable. It is language which avoids or shifts responsibility, language which is at variance with its real or purported meaning. It is language which conceals or prevents thought. Doublespeak is language which does not extend thought but limits it. 1 The National Council of Teachers of English has been tracking doublespeak since the early 1970s. A Committee on Public Doublespeak was formed to search out abuses of language by the government, industry, advertisers, military, health care, educators, and anyone who influences public policy in our country. This committee gives out annual awards to those who have most abused or misused the language. Below, a partial list of doublespeak expressions the committee has uncovered is printed. Directions: Match each doublespeak expression with its meaning. Write the letter of your answer on the line provided after the expression. Part A. Term Military terms 1. Front-leaning rest exercises 2. Preemptive counterattack 3. Air support 4. Servicing the target 5. Collateral damage 6. Tactical redeployment 7. Large potentially disruptive reentry system Business terms 8. Non-performing assets 9. Management turnovers 10. Negative patient-care outcome 11. Inhalation hazard 12. Adult correctional institution 13. Environmentally destabilized 14. Energetic disassembly Government 15. Sub-standard housing 16. Revenue enhancement 17. Period of accelerated negative growth 1 Meaning Choices _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ A. B. C. D. E. F. G. Retreat Invasion Civilian casualties Pushups Bombing Nuclear bomb Killing the enemy _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ H. I. J. K. L. M. N. Polluted Bad loans Prison Death in a hospital Poison gas Job layoffs Nuclear power plant explosion _________ _________ _________ O. Recession P. Ghetto Q. Taxes Lutz, William. “Fourteen Years of Doublespeak,” English Journal (March 1988): 40. Adapted from 1984 The Center for Learning Part B. Professor Lutz writes that “doublespeak is not the product of careless language or sloppy thinking.” Rather it is “the product of clear thinking and is language carefully designed … to mislead … to distort reality … to corrupt the mind.” 1. Select 3 doublespeak expressions from the list above & write them on the opposite side of your paper. Beside each one explain why it was created & how it misleads the reader. 2. Do you think that doublespeak is dangerous? Explain your opinion in paragraph form. Part C. Finally, Professor Lutz claims that doublespeak is very dangerous and can “ultimately destroy the function of language.” He writes, The use of doublespeak can spread so that it becomes the language of public discourse, with speakers and listeners convinced that they really understand such language. After a while we may really believe that politicians don’t lie but only “misspeak,” that illegal acts are merely “inappropriate actions” … If we really believe that … such language communicates and promotes clear thought, then the world of 1984 with its control of reality through language is not far away.” Examples of Doublespeak in the Media Today 1. The USA used to support a group of Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan called the "Mujahideen", which means, "freedom fighters". This was back when the USA was giving military assistance to those people when the Soviet Army was fighting them. Today, most of those same people are still fighting...only this time they are fighting AGAINST the USA. Instead of calling them "Mujahideen" we refer to them now as "Al-Queda". 2. In 1997, President Bill Clinton praised the balanced-budget agreement as “a great victory for all Americans” that “put America’s fiscal house in order again” even though the agreement actually ensured the growth of the budget deficit. 3. The purpose of the CIA’s "Psychological Warfare Manual," prepared for rebels fighting the government of Central Nicaragua, was "to make every guerilla persuasive in face-to-face communication" and to develop "political awareness," and insisted that the manual's "emphasis is on education. . . ." The CIA manual, Lutz noted, "gave advice on the ‘selective use of violence' to ‘neutralize' Nicaraguan officials, such as judges, police, and state security officials. . . ." QUESTIONS: 1. WHY is doublespeak dangerous? 2. What can we (as an individual) do to mitigate this danger?