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Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

Is this novel still fiction anymore?
Designed+by+Edgar+Torabyan
Designed by Edgar Torabyan

It’s been 72 years since George Orwell released one of his most famous novels, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Yes, believe it or not, 1984 was actually released in 1949. 

But despite being this old, Nineteen Eighty Four is one of the most famous books in US schools. It’s the first thing you see when you visit the GUSD approved books page. You can find this book in every library. You’ve probably read this book in class. You’ve probably heard the term “Big Brother”, and you’ve probably heard someone say, “This is literally 1984.”

The book is set in a fictional, dystopian future, where the main character, Winston Smith, is living in a world of surveillance, where language is heavily controlled in order to regulate people’s thoughts. The world is filled with ironic names for institutions, which are used to manipulate people. For example, the Ministry of Love is responsible for waging war, and the Ministry of Truth is responsible for spreading lies. And the Department of Defense…oh wait.

The book has several unexpected plot twists, which are necessary to keep the story going. We learn very quickly that absolutely nothing and no one can be trusted, but Winston keeps making that same mistakes over and over again. 

The story is very engaging, simple to follow and easy to understand, but most importantly, this book is sadly relevant to what’s going on in the world today. The story focuses heavily on the English language, which in the novel has been replaced with Newspeak, a very simplified version of English, created to make it harder for people to express their feelings.

Orwell warns us that words can and will be used to change the way that we perceive basic ideas, and if you look at the state of the English language today, it’s not hard to notice that this trend is occurring in our own lives. 

The word “messaging”, for example, is only being kept afloat by older generations, as it’s now referred to as a “dm”, and the word “suspicious” has been reduced to just “sus”. The word “fire” is now used to describe something amazing, and “wym” is slowly replacing “what do you mean”.

Some people also share their opinion on good and bad events using the letters  “L” and “W”, with “W” being the equivalent of a thumbs up, and “L” being the same as a thumbs down. This trend does not recognize that many elements in our society exist in a grey area, and not everything should be reduced down to a win or a loss.

And If you think that’s bad, you clearly haven’t been on Reddit. It’s very common to see acronyms such as “IIRC” (if I remember correctly), “TIL” (today I learned), “AFAIK” (as far as I know), “TLDR” (too long, didn’t read), “ELI5” (explain like i’m 5), and “AMA”(ask me anything).

I, just like you, use all of these words and acronyms, both online and in real life. It’s true that some of these changes make our lives easier, but we should learn to recognize the manipulative changes to the way that we communicate, and we should prevent this from becoming a slippery slope. Words like “are” and “why” should not be replaced with “r” and “y”. 

Nineteen Eighty-Four was written to warn us about the future, and it was meant to help us recognize the warning signs of our changing language and how it can be used to manipulate our thoughts. Instead of treating it like a fantasy novel, we should instead recognize Orwell’s book as the warning it was meant to be. 

If you haven’t read Nineteen Eighty-Four yet, you should really add it to your list. You will be surprised how much Orwell has accurately predicted the way that language would change over time.

About the Contributor
Edgar Torabyan
Edgar Torabyan, Staff Writer
Edgar is a senior at Glendale High School. He’s a part of the journalism and cinematography programs at GHS, but he also enjoys participating in various other school activities. Outside of school, Edgar likes doing normal stuff, like drinking water and breathing oxygen.
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