THE C VOCABULARY
The C vocabulary was supplementary to the others and
consisted entirely of scientific and technical terms. These resembled the
scientific terms in use today, and were constructed from the same roots,
but the usual care was taken to define them rigidly and strip them of
undesirable meanings. They followed the same grammatical rules as the
words in the other two vocabularies. Very few of the C words had any
currency either in everyday speech or in political speech. Any scientific
worker or technician could find all the words he needed in the list devoted
to his own speciality, but he seldom had more than a smattering of the
words occurring in the other lists. Only a very few words were common to
all lists, and there was no vocabulary expressing the function of Science
as a habit of mind, or a method of thought, irrespective of its particular
branches. There was, indeed, no word for 'Science', any meaning that it
could possibly bear being already sufficiently covered by the word INGSOC.
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
BIG BROTHER IS UNGOOD. But this statement, which to an orthodox ear merely
conveyed a self-evident absurdity, could not have been sustained by
reasoned argument, because the necessary words were not available. Ideas
inimical to Ingsoc could only be entertained in a vague wordless form,
and could only be named in very broad terms which lumped together and
condemned whole groups of heresies without defining them in doing so.
One could, in fact, only use Newspeak for unorthodox purposes by
illegitimately translating some of the words back into Oldspeak. For
example, ALL MANS ARE EQUAL was a possible Newspeak sentence, but only
in the same sense in which ALL MEN ARE REDHAIRED is a possible Oldspeak
sentence. It did not contain a grammatical error, but it expressed
a palpable untruth – i.e. that all men are of equal size, weight, or
strength. The concept of political equality no longer existed, and this
secondary meaning had accordingly been purged out of the word EQUAL.
In 1984, when Oldspeak was still the normal means of communication,
the danger theoretically existed that in using Newspeak words one might
remember their original meanings. In practice it was not difficult for
any person well grounded in DOUBLETHINK to avoid doing this, but within
a couple of generations even the possibility of such a lapse would have
vanished. A person growing up with Newspeak as his sole language would no
more know that EQUAL had once had the secondary meaning of 'politically
equal', or that FREE had once meant 'intellectually free', than for
instance, a person who had never heard of chess would be aware of the
secondary meanings attaching to QUEEN and ROOK. There would be many
crimes and errors which it would be beyond his power to commit, simply
because they were nameless and therefore unimaginable. And it was to be
foreseen that with the passage of time the distinguishing characteristics
of Newspeak would become more and more pronounced – its words growing
fewer and fewer, their meanings more and more rigid, and the chance of
putting them to improper uses always diminishing.
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 censored, 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 (GOODTHINKFUL would be the Newspeak
expression) in tendency. In practice this meant that no book written before
approximately 1960 could be translated as a whole. Pre-revolutionary
literature could only be subjected to ideological translation – that is,
alteration in sense as well as language. Take for example the well-known
passage from the Declaration of Independence:
WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT,
THAT ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL,
THAT THEY ARE ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN INALIENABLE RIGHTS,
THAT AMONG THESE ARE LIFE, LIBERTY,
AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
THAT TO SECURE THESE RIGHTS, GOVERNMENTS ARE INSTITUTED AMONG MEN,
DERIVING THEIR POWERS FROM THE CONSENT OF THE GOVERNED.
THAT WHENEVER ANY FORM OF GOVERNMENT BECOMES DESTRUCTIVE OF THOSE ENDS,
IT IS THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE TO ALTER OR ABOLISH IT,
AND TO INSTITUTE NEW GOVERNMENT...
It would have been quite impossible to render this into Newspeak while
keeping to the sense of the original. The nearest one could come to doing
so would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word CRIMETHINK.
A full translation could only be an ideological translation, whereby
Jefferson's words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government.
A good deal of the literature of the past was, indeed, already being
transformed in this way. Considerations of prestige made it desirable to
preserve the memory of certain historical figures, while at the same time
bringing their achievements into line with the philosophy of Ingsoc.
Various writers, such as Shakespeare, Milton, Swift, Byron, Dickens, and
some others were therefore in process of translation: when the task had
been completed, their original writings, with all else that survived of
the literature of the past, would be destroyed. These translations were
a slow and difficult business, and it was not expected that they would
be finished before the first or second decade of the twenty-first
century. There were also large quantities of merely utilitarian
literature – indispensable technical manuals, and the like – that had to
be treated in the same way. It was chiefly in order to allow time for
the preliminary work of translation that the final adoption of Newspeak
had been fixed for so late a date as 2050.