Friday, May 26, 2023

Putin’s Orwellian NewSpeak has Four Basic Forms, Philologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 19 – The misuse and distortion of language has been “one of the main instruments” of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, Kseniya Turkova says. There are hundreds of individual examples of such abuse, but the philologist and member of the expert council of “The Word of the Year” competition says they all fall into four main categories.

            These include using words in exactly the opposite way that they are typically employed, engaging in euphemistic expressions, deliberate verbosity designed to produce information overload, and “of course, hate speech,” Turkova suggests (

            She discusses each and provides examples before offering some general conclusions. Turkova recalls that Russian philologist Gasan Huseynov once called this newspeak “a cesspool language” for which he was viciously attacked. “But as time has shown, it wasn’t and isn’t a normal language but rather an artificial tongue for another parallel reality.”

            As such, it is “closed upon itself with each linguistic innovation aimed exclusively at internal consumers who live in an information vacuum.” After all, she points out, “outside of Russia, terms like ‘the collective West,’ ‘the Anglo-Saxons,’ and ‘de-Nazification’ are not widely used.”

            “Before our eyes,” Turkova continues, “a horrific newspeak is taking shape or has already been formed. It is spreading ever more widely and capturing ever more territories that had been dominated by common sense.” But, she argues, “it is still possible to resist by analyzing and dissecting this parallel reality” and then rejecting it.


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