Hello Orwell Today,

I'm reading the book 1984 and would like to know something. "The revolution will be complete when the language is perfect." What does Syme mean when he says this?

Please help me. THANKS.
D Wells

Greetings D Wells,

Syme says those words to Winston in the lunch room of the Ministry of Truth in 1984 at which time Big Brother - an evil, tyrannical, one-world government - has been in power for about twenty-five years. It came into power in the 60s after it "revolutionized with force" by killing all defenders of England, America and Australia and grouping the survivors under the name Oceania.

The word "revolution" is usually associated with people rising up against tyrannical governments to create governments "of the people, by the people and for the people" - like the American Revolution. Big Brother's revolution is the opposite of a people's revolution, but everything Big Brother (the government of the world) says is a lie and opposite to the truth.

In any event, in Syme's time, Big Brother has accomplished the first aim of its Revolution which is:

"to conquer the whole surface of the earth"

Now, to stay in power "forever", Big Brother's Revolution must accomplish its second aim:

"to extinquish once and for all the possibility of independent thought"

Thinkers can become leaders who communicate ideas to other thinking people and inspire rebellions against Big Brother. Therefore "thinking" in Ocenaia is a crime, ie "thoughtcrime" and thoughtcrime is punishable by death. Also, it is a crime not to report thinking when you see and hear it and everyone must stop thoughts before they happen. That's what "crimestop" is all about.

To monitor thoughtcrime and crimestoppers Big Brother devotes technology to watching and listening to people twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week (24/7) and in its laboratories, hospitals and prisons it experiments on people's brains with drugs and instruments to "discover, against his will, what another human being is thinking".

Big Brother's ultimate goal for "extinquishing thought" is to destroy the language people communicate with and replace it with a new language - a "new speak", ie Newspeak - that is made up of nothing but one-dimensional function words. There will be no words for abstract concepts and thus, with no words to communicate thoughts, the human being will be no different from the animal, with an as equally low level of consciousness or ability to alter his living conditions.

As Syme (whose job is removing words from the old English dictionary) points out:

"The whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought...We're destroying words - scores of them, hundreds of them, every day. We're cutting the language down to the bone. In the final version of Newspeak there'll be nothing else...A word contains its opposite in itself. Take 'good', for instance. If you have a word like 'good', what need is there for a word like 'bad'? 'Ungood' will do just as well...Or, if you want a stronger version of 'good', what sense is there in having a whole string of vague useless words like 'excellent' and 'splendid' and all the rest of them? 'Plusgood' covers the meaning; or 'doubleplusgood' if you want something stronger still. In the final version of Newspeak there'll be nothing else...

In the end thoughtcrime will be literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word...Every year there will be fewer and fewer words and the range of consciousness will become a little smaller...By the year 2050 - earlier probably - all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron - they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different, but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. Even the literature of Big Brother will change. Even the slogans will change. How could you have a slogan like "freedom is slavery" when the concept of freedom has been abolished? The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought, as we understand it now...There'll be no reason or excuse for committing thoughtcrime...The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect."

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - Review the themes 5.Pyramidal New World Order and 27.Goodthink and 18.Newspeak and 21.Crimestop and 20.Thought Police

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~