Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 23, 2004

Newspeak Collection

anti-Iraqi Forces describes nationalistic Iraqi insurgents fighting against a foreign occupation as in:

11th MEU battles anti-Iraqi forces in An Najaf.

This is my favorite example for the application of Orwellian Newspeak
The basic idea behind Newspeak was to remove all shades of meaning from language, leaving simple dichotomies (pleasure and pain, happiness and sadness, good thoughts and thoughtcrimes).
Please help me to collect more examples of contemporary Newspeak. Please include:
  • the Newspeak wording
  • its real meaning
  • a link to and/or a citation of an application
A friend will use the collection in a class about 1984.


Posted by b on August 23, 2004 at 17:49 UTC | Permalink


Edward Herman's book "Beyond Hypocrisy" has a lengthy doublespeak dictionary from 1992 which was quite revealing of the Reagan/Bush manipulations, if that would be of any help to your friend. Herman has also written on newspeak elsewhere.

Posted by: b real | Aug 23 2004 18:10 utc | 1

We are surrounded by it non-stop. One has only to scan any public speech by any public person on any day to find many many examples of newspeak.

Some may use it more and some less, but has beecome so common as to be un-noticeable unless you are cocking a keen ear. Or unless it is poorly done which is often.

Like so:

Line up a series of convenient "facts" which will forward the agenda. Call them sound bites if you like. 2) Set up for ridicule any contrary info and the messengers who bear it. 3) Repeat often. 4) Reward journalists and historians who do the repeating for you. 5) Threaten those who won't.

Voila, now you have newspeak and the truth is irrelevant.

I should read Herman's book and broaden my perspecive on this, but gawd it is already so pervasive and no-one seems to mind.

Posted by: rapt | Aug 23 2004 18:56 utc | 2


Actual translation: ‘You have to respect these holy sites!’

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 23 2004 20:01 utc | 3

Nemo, your link blogged that guy into hyperspace!

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Aug 23 2004 20:08 utc | 4

Massaging the figures, blurring the picture – cutting a hole in the bottom of the bag for the bad apples to fall through

Practice routine in human-rights cases

…From the start of the Iraq war in February 2003 through the middle of this year, 66 service members accused of prisoner abuse or sex assault were given administrative punishments, including fines and reprimands, compared with 29 sent to courts-martial….

Iraq GIs allowed to avoid trials

Mannheim, Germany - A military judge hearing evidence in the alleged abuse of prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison demanded today that prosecutors speed up the investigation, warning that further delay could derail the case against at least one of the accused soldiers.
Col. James Pohl expressed displeasure after being told a lone Army criminal investigator was reviewing thousands of pages of records contained in a secret computer server at Abu Ghraib.
Turning to the military prosecutor, Pohl said he wanted a report on the server inquiry available by Dec. 1. But he then added that he would "seriously revisit" a defense motion to dismiss the case against Spc. Charles Graner if there was no sign of progress.
"The government has to figure out what they want to do with the prosecution of this case," the judge said testily...

Army judge in Abu Ghraib hearings warns U.S. to speed up

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 23 2004 20:20 utc | 5

Of course, not everyone has mastered the carefully nuanced language of 'Doublespeak' as the following diplomatic exchange reveals...

"....North Korea has described US President George W Bush as an "imbecile" and a "tyrant that puts Hitler in the shade".
A Foreign Ministry spokesman was responding to comments President Bush made last week in which he described the North's Kim Jong-il as a "tyrant..."

North Korea likens Bush to Hitler

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 23 2004 21:09 utc | 6

Respect these holy sites, alternate link.

Posted by: fiumana bella | Aug 23 2004 21:33 utc | 7

Doublespeak – Freedom is occupation

"…You cannot speak about a team that represents freedom. We do not have freedom in Iraq, we have an occupying force. This is one of our most miserable times," he said.
"Freedom is just a word for the media. We are living in hard times, under occupation…."

We’re no symbol of freedom, Iraq coach says

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 23 2004 23:24 utc | 8

Newspeak: Anti-American

In the months immediately after Sept 11 2001, this meant, to its users, any sentiment other than 100% "U-S-A! U-S-A!" approval of this country, its foreign policy, its history, and its right to strike militarily almost anywhere on the globe.

Googling Instapundit and his crowd in that time would turn up more links than I care to think about.

Newspeak: "pro-life"

In the debate about abortion. The idea is that those on the other side of the issue are "pro death", i.e., murderers. That the term does not really mean its users value all life is clear: many of them support the death penalty, for example. (And, yes, there are anti-choice-to-have-an-abortion Catholics who are consistently 'pro life' in a real sense, but half the movement, and the driving force of it as a political effort, are fundamentalist Protestants who are anything but 'for life'.

Those who call themselves 'pro life' are opposed to women's right and ability to decide when and whether they will bear children, including whether to carry a fertilized egg to term. They value the life of a zygote over the life of a woman.

Posted by: eb | Aug 24 2004 0:21 utc | 9

Newspeak: bad guy

Used by all levels of the U.S. military, grunt to general, to refer to those they are in the process of hunting down, killing, capturing (and abusing). It has a childish ring that is designed to take the mind off these actions, and to justify them if they should float into view anyway.

If wars were fought only to defend against actual attacks, the dignified and time-honored term 'enemy' would serve. (Even though the word has in its way served as an early beachhead of Newspeak). But because wars are now fought to "bring democracy" and "keep the peace", it's useful to have a simpler, less specific word.
'Enemy' has a way of raising the question... whose enemy?

Posted by: eb | Aug 24 2004 0:34 utc | 10

Bernard, for some prime examples tell your friend to check out our Republican Congress.

Here's one for starters: Healthy Forest Initiative.

Plus the military can always be relied on for oldies-but-goodies like surgical strike or collateral damage -- which, strangely enough, often seems to accompany the surgical strike.

And let's not forget the recently-coined Newspeak for ex-BOSS thugs hired as mercenaries in Iraq: Contractors. Isn't the homey image of guys wearing plaid shirts and jeans with tape measures clipped to their belts much more pleasant than the reality?

Posted by: prof fate | Aug 24 2004 4:33 utc | 11

Willaim lutz Lutz not only kicks ass, he shows excactly how to decode double speak and if I am correct talks of a form of deception called "mobile truths" which is a form all to itself; if you haven't yet, pick up a copy of The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore. William Lutz is professor of English at Rutgers University and author of the book The New Doublespeak: Why No One Knows What Anyone's Saying Anymore and other books and essays/articles. While this is an academic book it is by no means dry he has a chapter in it that shows that Republican strategist Newt Gingrich's campaign committee, GOPAC, published a handbook for Republican candidates. One section was titled "Language, a Key Mechanism of Control." Please note his use of the term "control." Gingrich recommended that Democrats always be described in words such as anti-flag, anti-family, anti-child, bizarre, cheat, coercion, corrupt, decay, destructive, devour, hypocrisy, intolerant, liberal, lie, pathetic, selfish, sick, they and them, and even traitors. Such people are not to be reasoned with, they are to be crushed. When there was a loud protest, Gingrich later withdrew the "traitors" term. It is a sign of the continuing degeneration of political debate that DeLay and other Radical Right draft dodgers have shown no such hesitations.For Republicans, Gingrich urged continual association with words such as care(ing), children, choice/choose, citizen, commitment, common sense, courage, crusade, dream, family, freedom, liberty, moral, peace, pro- (issue): flag, children, environment, reform, strength, success, tough, truth, vision, we/us/our. Dichotomize, then seize the good words, and people find it difficult to think clearly about what you are saying.
here's More...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 24 2004 5:45 utc | 12

Also, In a guideline written for Republican members of Congress, Frank Lutz, (Not to be confused w/William Lutz) Republican pollster and tactician, writes "Women consistently respond to the phrase 'for the children' regardless of the context.

From balancing the budget to welfare reform, 'for the children' scores highest of all arguments offered. Therefore, rather than creating a 'Compassion Agenda,' Republicans need to create a communication framework that involves children . . . ." (Deborah Tannen, Let Them Eat Words, American Prospect, Sept. 2003) It is no accident that Bush referred to children 11 times in a speech on tax cuts and in a speech on "faith based initiatives" -- the count was up to 35.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 24 2004 5:55 utc | 13

and my all time favorite is "group think"

to blame "everybody" for the intellegence failures,

is to blame "nobody" for the intellegence failures.

so clean, so elegant, so invisible.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 24 2004 6:23 utc | 14

Ding, ding, ding. Bravo! anna missed,
you are running a horse length a head in my mind, with that brilliant post! thus far...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 24 2004 7:05 utc | 15

@ anna missed,
Brilliant post!
Ding, ding, are a horse length ahead so far on this topic.
Bravo! great post.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 24 2004 7:09 utc | 16

Newspeak - A few bad apples = the wider society…

“…Afterward we look back, amazed. Did I really do that? Believe that? Fall for that bit of propaganda? Think that all our enemies were evil? That all our nation’s acts were good?…”

Abu Ghraib: Ordinary folk or human aberrations?

Question - Doublethink, Newspeak, Groupthink – who do you think you are kidding? Answer – Yourself, every time…

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 24 2004 7:23 utc | 17

grrrr, sorry about the double, but since I here, two things to keep in mind about what's is going on as I have posted elsewhere, as well as maybe here, what we have today is not propagada but Prop-agenda. An article in the Guardian by multimedia artist/electronic music pioneer/oblique strategist Brian Eno, concerning propaganda, spin and other issues relating to the current situation in Iraq.

In it, he discusses the covert manner in which government and media create public opinion through bias, euphemisms, and skewed storytelling.

Eno explains the power of words and images to create a reality that serves the agendas of those in power. Not a new concept for a lot of you out there, but interesting reading nonetheless. PROP-AGENDA is Not the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about. Think about that for a moment. Also something that I think has gone down the memeory hole is the so-called « Proactive, Pre-emptive Operations Group » called (P2OG) In other words -- and let's say this plainly, clearly and soberly, so that no one can mistake the intention of Rumsfeld's plan -- the United States government is planning to use "cover and deception" and secret military operations to provoke murderous terrorist attacks on innocent people.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 24 2004 7:27 utc | 18

Newspeak – Torture = Interrogation

In an argument before a Federal Appeals Court, the U.S. Government once again tries to narrow the meaning of torture

Defining and redefining torture

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 24 2004 8:36 utc | 19

@Uncle $cam

And does this not bring us to (alluded to by alabama &Pat) what the endgame in Iraq will bring?The end could be near, and there is one giant silence everywhere, except here.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 24 2004 8:37 utc | 20

More on weasel words

….War is waged by cowards. Brave men and women will die, but first, chicken-hearted politicians and journalists must start the stampede. When the war wagon rolls, no one in a position to slow it down will throw his body beneath its wheels, even if he harbors doubts or retains a shred of professional skepticism…

Big media failed us on Iraq

The media's willingness to maintain a form of silence and, with a few honorable exceptions, resist offering anything approaching consistent, ongoing, independent and objective reporting and assessment is still a form of failure that prolongs the conflict that the same media helped to birth.

Posted by: Nemo | Aug 24 2004 8:49 utc | 21

out on a limb, maybe

when the market takes the big dive down

when Iraq takes the big dive down

will the pundits take the big dive down

i should think so

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 24 2004 9:24 utc | 22

I posted that link previously, but here it is again:
Imagine the reaction to telling people "patriotism is psychotic."

George Lakoff is a professor of linguistics and cognitive science at the University of California, Berkeley; an expert in "framing," a communications ploy that defines the terms of debate, or defines a "frame" confining the extent of ideas available to influence a discussion. Republicans are masters of framing. As described by Orwell in his book 1984, the fundamental purpose of controlling the use of language (keeping discussion within a frame) is to limit the scope of thought; this is essential to social control. When you respond to an argument by using the terms defined by the framers, you have already lost. Lakoff uses the example of "tax relief," used by Republicans to insinuate that taxes are an inherent affliction. Lakoff suggests that Democrats (and any opponents of the Republicans) counter the "tax relief" excuse of relieving affliction, as a cover for enriching the wealthy, by discussing the "dues" we owe as a patriotic duty to support freedom, democracy, and the American way.

Posted by: MarcinGomulka | Aug 24 2004 15:59 utc | 23

I think there are some fine examples here.

"Thanks to this new efficient way of doing business all sorts of changes have been wrought by Mr. Bush which, appearing to do one thing, when explained are shown to do something quite different. That is, of course, the beauty of explanations — they cause things to be different from what they appear to be."

Posted by: beq | Aug 24 2004 16:00 utc | 24

@Uncle $cam

Thanks for the Brian Eno tip - here is the link:

Lessons in how to lie about Iraq - The problem is not propaganda but the relentless control of the kind of things we think about by Brian Eno

Posted by: b | Aug 24 2004 19:00 utc | 25

"Death tax" in Newspeak is really a tax on large wealthy estates at the time of inheritance (I think the limit is soon to be $3 million).

"Abuse" is Newspeak for torture.

(I'm tired. I'll link later. These are easy peasy to find.)

Posted by: SusanG | Aug 25 2004 1:55 utc | 26

thanks, b, I put that link in my post but it didn't come out for some reason, and I got caught up in other things before rechecking...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 25 2004 2:40 utc | 27

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