Newspeak and Cyberspeak: The Haunting Ghosts of the Russian Past

In Chris Shei & James Schnell (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Mind Engineering. Routledge (2024)
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Cyberspeak, the language of cybernetics, or its metalanguage to be more precise, consists of words that are both explaining and describing human/animal and machine forms of control and communication, while in newspeak, words were value-laden, which means they had strong positive or negative connotations connected to their use. For example, a 'spy' could only be a foreign agent, while a Russian one was a 'patriot'. First, it will be shown how there are still remnants of cyberspeak in modern science, pinpointing its cybernetic background and shaping our thoughts without us realizing they had any cybernetic origin whatsoever. Second, it will be investigated how newspeak, as its counterpart, can be analyzed from the theory of speech acts. Third, the current war in Ukraine allowed us a brief analysis of newspeak present in Russian public communication today (Putin's speeches), which will again be connected to their performative aspect.

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Kristina Šekrst
University of Zagreb


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