Tuesday, 21 April 2015

'I Doubleplusbellyfeel the Notion of Unobstacles'

In March the University of Warwick published 'Warwick Tone of Voice: Full Guidelines.' Now read on. Thank you to my colleague Andrew Massoura for highlighting this gem.

Dr Winston Smith on his way to the University's Newspeak Committee

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Dr Winston Smith, a young lecturer, hurried across the Goodwarwick University campus, and slipped quietly through the glass doors of the 'DoubleplusgoodREFResults' Administrative Building. He was already late for the meeting as he passed a poster depicting an enormous face, more than a metre wide. Its eyes followed Winston as he made for the Central Committee Room. THE VC IS WATCHING YOU, the caption beneath it ran.

Winston had recently been appointed to the University's Newspeak Committee. The Committee had become the key decision making body for the University. Unlike the Senate it did not control the academic decisions of the University, but - much more importantly - it controlled the language by which they were conveyed.

As Winston entered the debate was in full flow.
'Does the Dean not realise that accepting the notion of obstacles is now ungood?' demanded the Registrar. 'He should be careful: such an assertion is tantamount to thoughtcrime!'
A murmur rippled around the table. 'Crimethinkful!' shouted the Student Representative.
'I doubleplusbellyfeel the notion of unobstacles,' asserted the Dean. 'No one is more Whatif-ful than I.'
The murmur died down.
'Ah Winston,' said the Chair. 'Do come in. We were just discussing the plusgood new Tone of Voice Guidelines from the Ministry of Truth. Have you had time to read them?'
'Oh yes,' said Winston. 'I agree: the Guidelines are plusgood. Doubleplusgood.'
The Dean, to Winston's left, looked sceptical. 'Oh really? So tell me Winston,' he said, as he flicked through the Guidelines. 'Is it better to say 'we cut costs' or 'we achieve cost savings?'
Winston was aware of the trap. Faces around the table looked at him expectantly.
'Achieve cost savings?'
'Unright!' screamed the Dean. 'And what about this: should we say 'our thinking is..', or 'we think that..'?
Winston thought. 'Our thinking is...?'
'Unright!' screamed the Dean again. Others took up the chant. 'Unright! Unright! Unright!'
The Chair turned to Winston, not unkindly. 'Winston, you are clearly unwhatif-ful. You are in danger of ownlife thoughtcrime. You need to crimestop through retraining in goodthink. I would suggest you have some time on a joycamp.'
At that moment the doors burst open and two uniformed Thought Police marched in. Winston shrank back, but the Police pulled him roughly back, dragging him towards the door. As they disappeared the last words that Winston heard were the three Party slogans, supplemented by the Seven Principles of the Language of Possibility, over and over and over again:

'Look to the future!'
'War is peace!'
'Keep it positive!'
'Speak collaboratively!'
'Freedom is slavery!'
'Start dialogue!'
'Give examples!'
'Be proactive!'
'Say it like you mean it!'
'Ignorance is strength!'

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