THE PRINCIPLES OF NEWSPEAK
Newspeak was the official language of the United Kingdom and had been devised to meet the ideological needs of Malcent, or Male Centring. In the year 2024 there was not yet anyone who used Newspeak as his sole means of communication without the risk of denunciation. The articles in Pink News were written in it, but this was a tour de force which could only be carried out by a shameless man. It was expected Newspeak would have finally superseded Oldspeak (or standard English, as we should call it) by about the year 2030. Meanwhile it gained ground rapidly, all public and private institutions tending to use Newspeak words and grammatical constructions more and more in their everyday speech. The version in use in 2024 was a provisional one, and contained many superfluous words and archaic formations which were due to be suppressed.
The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Malcent, but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought – that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Malcent – should be literally unthinkable, at least so far as thought is dependent on words. It’s vocabulary was so constructed as to give inexact and imprecise definitions to all words, so that they could mean whatever the Malcent speaker intended. This was done partly by the invention of new words, but chiefly by extending the meaning of existing undesirable words. To give a single example, the word woman still existed in Newspeak, but only insofar as it could be applied to anyone, irrespective of physical traits, mannerisms, mode of dress or any secondary characteristics which would otherwise have prevented one from being described as a woman. It could not be used in its old sense of female since that term no longer existed, even as a concept.
Newspeak was founded on the English language, though many Newspeak sentences, even when not containing newly-created words, would be barely intelligible to an English-speaker from as recently as 1984. Newspeak words were divided into three distinct categories, known as the A vocabulary, the B vocabulary (also known as compound words), and the C vocabulary. It will be simpler to discuss each class separately.
The A vocabulary. The A vocabulary consisted of the words needed for the business of everyday life — for such things as eating, drinking, working, putting on one’s lingerie, going up and down stairs, riding in vehicles, gardening, cooking, and the like. It was composed almost entirely of words that already exist, words like hit, run, dog, tree, sugar, house, field — but in comparison with the standard English vocabulary their meanings were greatly expanded. For example, the verb to bully meant not only to maliciously harm someone, but also to disagree with them. Other words, such as threaten, had also been expanded, to extend to disagreement, as had murder, harm, hate, and so forth.
All of these words could be strengthened with the prefix literal, or, for still great emphasis, actual literal. While this may seem verbose to those accustomed to Oldspeak, it allowed for simultaneously excusing the actions of an advocate of Malcent, while increasing the enormity of the actions of those opposed. A Malcent hitting someone could be cast as just a slap or only one punch, while any denunciation of them that resulted would be actual literal violence.
In addition, any word could be negatived by adding the affix anti- and, along with the expanded definitions of words, allowed for negative traits to be couched in positive-sounding euphemisms. A Malcent, for example, who opposed all disagreement with their position – which was, itself, a defining feature of Malcentism – could legitimately describe themselves as anti-violence.
The expanded definition of woman made it impossible to describe someone as being anti-women, as the class women included – theoretically, at least – everyone. To accuse someone of being anti-women was no less than to accuse them of sociopathy, and would always be viewed as actual literal violence, and attract retribution in line with such.
The B vocabulary. The B vocabulary consisted of words which had been deliberately constructed for political purposes: words, that is to say, which not only had in every case a political implication, but were intended to impose a desirable mental attitude upon the person using them. Without a full understanding of the principles of Malcent it was difficult to use these words correctly. In some cases they could be translated into Oldspeak, or even into words taken from the A vocabulary, but this usually demanded a long paraphrase and always involved the loss of certain overtones. The B words were a sort of verbal shorthand, often packing whole ranges of ideas into a few syllables, and at the same time more accurate and forcible than ordinary language.
In most cases, words in the B vocabulary were made by affixing trans- or cis- or girl- to existing words, although by 2024 there was already an ideological push to carefully and precisely define when the affixes should be written separately, as their own words, and when they should and should not be hyphenated. Thus, in the time period we are concerned with, it was already common to write trans woman as two words, with the prefix now functioning as an adjective, and ciswoman, as a single word, was becoming more frequent. One could, therefore, have women – a group without boundaries – trans women, who were a special subclass of women, and ciswomen, who were external to the class women. Although these distinctions can seem arbitrary, each was carefully designed to match the principles of Malcent, so it was natural that transwomen should evolve to trans-women, then trans women and, by the time of the final edition of Newspeak, simply women, while females should be relegated to being ciswomen or transmen.
Some of the B words had highly subtilized meanings, barely intelligible to anyone who had not mastered the language as a whole. Consider, for example, such a typical sentence from a Pink News leading article as Transphobes, we won’t debate our existence. The shortest rendering that one could make of this in Oldspeak would be: “We will not allow those who hatefully pretend to believe that there are material differences between men and women, and that men’s access to women’s spaces should not be automatic and backed by the full force of the law, to force us to live in a state where our ideological beliefs are not automatically accepted, without deviation.” But this is not an adequate translation. To begin with, in order to grasp the full meaning of the Newspeak sentence quoted above, one would have to have a clear idea of the principles of Malcent. As only a person thoroughly grounded in Malcent could appreciate the full force of the word transphobe, which implied not only an irrational fear, but was inextricably mixed up with the concepts of wilful hatred, racism, lack of education and an antediluvian world-view. Or of the word debate, which indicated not a rational discussion of ideas, but a violent desire to impose your will on others. But the special function of certain Newspeak words, of which transphobe was one, was not so much to express meanings as to destroy them. These words, necessarily few in number, had had their meanings extended until they contained within themselves whole batteries of words which, as they were sufficiently covered by a single comprehensive term, could now be scrapped and forgotten.
The C vocabulary. The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms. These were medical terms in use today, but very few had currency either in everyday speech or in political speech. While they were useful in a clinical setting, the words in the C vocabulary – vagina, cervix, menstruation – carried with them an air of excluding men, directly counter to the principles of Malcent, and if required in everyday use were replaced by euphemisms drawn from the A vocabulary, such as front-hole.
From the foregoing account it will be seen that in Newspeak the expression of unorthodox opinions, above a very low level, was well-nigh impossible. It was of course possible to utter heresies of a very crude kind, a species of blasphemy. It would have been possible, for example, to say Trans women are men. But this statement, which to an orthodox ear merely conveyed a self-evident absurdity, could not have been sustained by a reasoned argument, because the speaker would already have been banned from any platform and dismissed from their job.
When Oldspeak had been once and for all superseded, the last link with the past would have been severed. History had already been rewritten, but fragments of the literature of the past survived here and there, imperfectly cancelled, and so long as one retained one’s knowledge of Oldspeak it was possible to read them. In the future such fragments, even if they chanced to survive, would be unintelligible and untranslatable. It was impossible to translate any passage of Oldspeak into Newspeak unless it either referred to some technical process or some very simple everyday action, or was already orthodox in tendency. Take for example a well-known passage from The Book of Genesis:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while keeping the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing so would be to swallow the whole passage up into the single word transphobia. A full translation could only be an ideological one, whereby Genesis 1:27 would become a treatise on gendered souls.
A good deal of the literature of the past was, indeed, already being declared problematic by 2024 and work was underway to ban most of it. It was only the volume of this endeavour that led to the date for the final adoption of Newspeak being placed as late as 2030.
With apologies to George Orwell, who was too dead to ask if this was OK