Topic: Politics & GovernmentGovernment

Last updated: February 22, 2019

Real-life deterioration of language is already underway, fed by the desire to avoid saying what we really mean. Doublespeak is the use of euphemistic or ambiguous language in order to disguise what is actually being meant to say. On the other hand, gobbledygook is defined as wordy and generally unintelligible jargon. These two terms, however different they may seem are rather closely related. They are both forms of language that are employed to render language more ambiguous and not come out and say exactly what it is you are meaning to say. Gobbledygook is actually a form of doublespeak, this being one way in which these two terms are related. They are both closely associated with political and medical language. They are used so heavily because people are afraid to say what they mean. These two forms of speech are, in fact, linked in meaning. However, one was first coined around a decade before the other.
Even though the terms are related in meaning, the histories of doublespeak and gobbledygook are two different stories. Firstly, doublespeak was first coined in the early 1950s, whereas gobbledygook was coined by Maury Maverick in 1944. Alongside the fact that the two terms were initially coined around a decade apart, the actual origins of these two terms are also quite different. Maury Maverick, he who first coined ‘gobbledygook’, was working for the US government in the House of Representatives. He was living and working in an environment that was filled and centered around the bureaucratic language that could be considered utter jargon. After having worked for the Smaller Works Corporation he became so utterly exasperated with the terribly long and confusing words and sent a memo saying that any such gobbledygook used should be banned and that “anyone using the words activation or implementation will be shot!”(Lior.). He then revealed that his inspiration for coming up with such a word to describe this way of talking was how it resembles the gobbling of turkeys thus the name gobbledygook. He also explains that “the ‘gook’ comes from the sound made at the end of the gobble by the turkeys.” (Lior.). Moving on to the origin of doublespeak and how it widely differentiated from that of gobbledygook. This particular origin story had previously been debated because some believed that the term doublespeak originated in George Orwell’s novel 1984, when it did not in fact come from that. However Orwell did come up with the words “Newspeak, Oldspeak, duckspeak … and doublethink” (“Doublespeak”). Orwell did make the use of composite nouns ending in “speak” rather popular but among the words he did come up with, “doublespeak” was not one of them, but he was rather the inspiration. Although we don’t know who exactly first coined doublespeak, we do know that it was a word that began to be used in the 50s and was probably a derivation of double-talk. Now that we know more about the origin and coming about of these terms, we can focus on some examples of their use in modern-day society.
Doublespeak and gobbledygook are very heavily used in today’s society and the frequency at which we see them is only augmenting.  The reason for which we see the use of doublespeak frequently in today’s society is because it is closely associated with political language, which is heavily employed nowadays. It is used to distort words and phrases so that people are expressing their ideas whilst trying to deceive people as to avoid potential conflict. A good example of doublespeak is given by author William Lutz : “the State Department announced it was replacing the term ‘killing’ in its future reports with the phrase ‘unlawful or arbitrary deprivation of life'” (Lutz, William.). Doublespeak is used to obfuscate people and make them believe they are fully aware of what’s being said when they really aren’t. People like to use doublespeak to make money and hide negativity. For example, by saying something is “gently used” when it is actually beyond use, that’s a complete distortion of truth and the person can make more money than they should off of the product. As for the use of gobbledygook in today’s society, it’s used for similar reasons: to confuse people. Today people are trying to find more ways to communicate their point without saying what they mean. It’s used to make people believe that whatever it is they’re reading or seeing is official and trustworthy whereas it most likely isn’t. It’s widely used in today’s economy to make more money. An example of this is given in an article found in the New York Times: “When you’ve just invented something,” a banker once told me, “you need a name that’s not obvious, because the longer it’s a proprietary technique, the more money you make.”(Lanchester, John.) Now, having seen and processed all the details and situations in today’s society of how these things have infiltrated our everyday life it is apparent how our language has been infected.
Taking all of these different things into account we can understand more what these terms mean and how they really are a very heavy influence in today’s language. They are used as deception techniques that can make people money and help to be more successful by tricking an audience into thinking what you want them to think of what you’re saying when you are actually saying something that’s very different from what you’re portraying. It’s a poison hidden in our language that keeps infecting and affecting more and more people through new generations.


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