Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

I’m sharing a quote from the book 1984 by Gerorge Orwell. The first time I read it I must have been in my early teens. I have little memory of it perhaps because I would have had little or no understanding of it. Then I read it again some seven or eight years ago and was blown away. This is the third time I’m reading it and it strikes such chord.

The book talks of a dystopian society completely controlled by a central authority, that of Big Brother. People aren’t allowed to voice dissent. They’re not even allowed to think of dissent. If one does, it leads to ‘thoughtcrime’. A new language called Newspeak is created for the people. The dictionaries are constantly ‘upgraded’ to contain fewer and fewer words.

Here’s a quote from the book. 

‘It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words…’

‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thoughts? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.’

1984, George Orwell

I’m not going to talk about the book in this post, but just about the quote that I picked, about the dangers of a shrinking vocabulary because No words = No thoughts.

When our children (or even we ourselves), use ‘awesome’ for everything they like, and ‘gross’ for everything they don’t, it is perhaps time to take note. Awesome might stand for anything from a intelligent satellite in space to a delicious bowl of pasta. How ridiculous is that!

We are turning into a generation that doesn’t think or feel as much, a mentally, emotionally impoverished generation. What’s worse is that we are doing it wilfully, voluntarily, lazily. We are rejecting the depth and richness of words and hence that of thoughts and feelings.

My takeaway from this particular passage is to explore and to use language in all its beauty and to help my children do the same.

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If you stumble upon a quote, a line (or two) or even a passage from a book that leaps out at you demanding to be shared join in with #BookBytes.


Here’s what you have to do:

  • Share it on your blog and link back to this latest post.
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  • Leave the link to your blogpost in the comments so I can drop by too.
  • Book Bytes goes live every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month. The next edition is scheduled for April 30th. Do join in.

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16 thoughts on “Not everything is awesome #BookBytes 6

  1. Rachna

    I agree. Vocabulary is so limited now. There are so many beautiful words that are losing their meaning. My older son gifted it to me on my birthday a couple of years back and I only read a quarter of it. Have to get back to it soon. Animal Farm, another book by George Orwell is a favourite of mine.

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    Reply
    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      I hope you do read it Rachna, though it is hard to get through in parts. The philosophising gets a bit much. But even so it makes for a hard-hitting read.

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  2. Ramya Abhinand

    A shrinking vocabulary coupled with the use of emojis in communication( thru digital media) has indeed killed the beauty in communication. I havent read George Orwell( including Animal farm. Yes, kill me for this … But I sure need to.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Animal farm is a good place to start – a simple easy read but amazing when placed in context.

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  3. Claire 'Word by Word'

    I love collecting quotes from the books I’m reading, I have a page on my blog dedicated just to that, and often when I go back and reread them, it’s as if encountering them for the first time because we see them in a different context, no longer within the framework of the book they came from, but in some other context, of life at the time we re-encounter it.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      That’s so true. Quotes can mean so much more when read as stand-alone pieces. That’s what I try to do here when I pick one for #BookBytes.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      We are all guilty of that and it is we who have transferred it to the next generation. It’s not just English either – I find I have a way richer Hindi vocabulary too.

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      That’s a good age for this book. It needs a certain amount of persistence and maturity to grasp its content.

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  4. Shilpa Garg

    I am the one who uses ‘awesome’ for most of the things. Yes, the usage of correct vocabulary and language is losing ground…
    Have read Animal Farm, but not 1984 as yet. Will pick this ‘awesome’ book soon. 😛

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    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      I do too Shilpa. When we think about it, it’s rather sad, isn’t it? Specially considering the fact that we’re readers and that we’re exposed to such a vast vocabulary.

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  5. shanayatales

    Firstly, wow. You read this book in your teens, and were able to get through it? That’s commendable. (I was veering towards awesome, but I resisted 😀 )

    I remember picking this book up after a pregnancy triggered reading slump that lasted a few years, and put it away because I found it deeply disturbing. Maybe it wasn’t the best decision to pick this book as the first one after a slump of a few years, but either way I couldn’t get through it, and put it away for later. 5 years later, that later hasn’t yet come. But I really should be getting to it. Hopefully soon.

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    Reply
    1. Obsessivemom Post author

      Ha ha..Shantala – it wasn’t by choice. When we were young we didn’t have access to many books. Neither did we have anything at all to do during our unending summer vacations. So I picked up books lying around the house. And I read lots of them without understanding or appreciating them – Aldous Huxley, Pearl Buck, Hemingway and this one too. I’m not even sure it was good thing. Now that I go back to them I’m actually reading them properly.
      Oh it’s definitely not a good one to start after a reading break. Even now I struggled through it in bits.

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  6. Alice Gerard

    I’ve read “1984” a few time. It’s not great fiction but it does convey a message about a world in which language is not loved, there is endless war, and people in charge tell nonstop lies. Um. Er. That is starting to sound less and less like fiction…

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  7. Vinodini

    I was about to say, “What an awesome thought!” Hahaha! That’s how ridiculously mechanical and repetitive we have become with our vocabulary. Thanks for bringing this to our notice through this post. This is definitely something that both adults and children should be conscious of in the days to come.

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