Language is Freedom

The limits of my language are the limits of my world - Ludwig Wittgenstein

In Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, Syme, a worker at the Ministry of Truth specializing in language explains the purpose of Newspeak, the official language of the state.

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

Big Brother, the nameless figurehead of the totalitarian superstate, imposes control over its citizens through language. As Syme explains, if there are no words to describe individuality, treason, or rejection of the parties idealogy, then you can’t think of it.

Controlling language is a form of mind control. On the contrary, this means that language is a form of freedom.

I get excited when I learn about a new word or phrase that describes something I thought of but lacked the vocabularly to express. Naming it makes it tangible, it makes it real. I realize that I’m not the only one that feels this. And once I identify it, then I can master it.

Here are a few examples:

Shoshin. A japanese word meaning beginner’s mind, the mindset of learning like a beginner even when studying at an advanced level.

Creative resistance. The fear that one feels before starting that business, or clicking publish on that essay.

Monkey Mind. The buddhist term describing the restlessness of the mind jumping from thought to thought like a monkey from tree to tree.

Sometimes, I’ll make up my own phrases.

Information obesity. One can become obese with food, similarily one can become obese with information as well.

Mental photography. Capturing ones thoughts in a moment in time like a photograph.

Keystone habits. Foundational habits that become the building blocks for other habits.

What new terms or phrases have you learned recently?

July 10, 2020 · Words

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