Tuesday, September 27, 2022

‘Mobik’ for Someone Mobilized Only Latest Example of Orwellian Newspeak in Putin’s Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 26 – Orwell’s Newspeak, the totalitarian language of 1984 in which words lose their original meaning and acquire a different and often opposite one, is being enriched, if that is the right word, by Putin’s “special military operation,” itself an example of this genre.

            Michele A. Berdy of The Moscow Times and Russian philologist Gasan Guseynov provide useful guides to this latest example of this attack on the Russian language and Russian thinking (themoscowtimes.com/2022/09/23/newspeak-in-the-new-russia-a78816 and rfi.fr/ru/россия/20220925-новое-в-языке-пропаганды-и-самомобилизации).

            Among the examples they give which can provide a kind of guide for the perplexed are the following:

·       “Russia’s self-defense” which actually means “attacking another country that hasn’t threatened Russia or anyone else.”

·       “Everything is going according to plan” which means that there is no plan and that it isn’t.

·       “Liberated territories” means “occupied territories of another country.”        

·       “Goodwill gesture” means “a forced retreat.”

·       “Liquidation” means “death and destruction.”


            But perhaps the richest vein of this new trend involve “the protection of Russian speakers and especially Russian-speaking children,” Berdy suggests, adding that “people in Russia must be protected from many terrible things” but these things must never be discussed in normal language but only in newspeak.

            Among these threats, she continues, are “provocations,” newspeak for criticism of the authorities, “fakes,” anything that doesn’t come from or is approved by those authorities, and discrediting the Russian army, “any criticism of the armed forces.” And if these new terms aren’t sufficient, the powers will punish or block those who engage in them.

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