For several months I’ve been conducting a minor social experiment: salting conversation with neighbors and other villagers with doublespeak phrases, mostly “Un-____” or “doubleplus” (e.g., “Un-good,” “doubleplus hot”) — words that are easy to decode given their context and any non-verbal cues. The idea is to see if and when it catches on, and who says it back first, then find out if they’ve used it elsewhere. So far, no soap.
(And now that I’ve blabbed about it, the data will be tainted.That’s assuming anybody in town is reading this site. A bold assumption, indeed.)
As doubleplus weird as this experiment may seem, Americans are already conversant in Newspeak. They just don’t know it as such.
As detailed on the Newspeak Dictionary site, there are hundreds of examples of Newspeak and Doublespeak in our daily language, most of which we don’t recognize as obfuscating the very thing the words are supposed to identify. We pick up via the media some seemingly perfect word, reuse it until we think we know what we’re really saying though never considering the full meaning. Then again, the American school system long ago quit teaching students how to think for themselves, or to consider the deeper significance of our words and actions.
Take for example, “debt ceiling.”
Or , “The Patriot Act.”
See what I mean.