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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