Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Power of Words

When reading 1984 I came across this paragraph:

"It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn't only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other words? A good 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 - better, because it's an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, 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 end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words - in reality only one word" (Orwell 45).

After reading this, I became extremely sad. My class and I had a really great discussion about the power of words and how horrible it would be if the perfect adjective for something particular no longer existed. I used the example of "wicked." When describing a witch you wouldn't say that "ungood" witch - that takes so much of the feeling away! This, of course, is the purpose in the novel. I think that the class really understood this discussion and I was really happy with how "into" it they were.

I'm so glad I have all these great adjectives: fantastic, excellent, outstanding, etc. I can't imagine life without them.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, plusgood just does not hold the same meaning as terrific.