Language In The Handmaid's Tale

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Plastic Language. Plastic Mind. Language is an extension of the human mind for it is through language that we are able to communicate the thoughts and questions that rattle in the mind. Unfortunately, this means that communication is feeble and rather malleable. It can be changed through convention, prescriptivism, or just simple totalitarianism. It is totalitarianism that is the most toxic towards language, as showcased through the regimes in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. These two novels, albeit differ in plot, are united through the control and abuse of language. The modified language expresses the views of the regime and enforces them upon the populace, which in turn, influences the…show more content…
During the reformation that took place in the early years of the Chinese communist regime, there were was a simplification of the Chinese writing system, but before I explain what they did to the language, I need to provide historical context. During the 1960s, the Communist Party of China sought to obliterate ancient Chinese culture via the Cultural Revolution. This revolution targeted the so-called Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. Classical Chinese literature was burned, Chinese architecture was obliterated, Chinese paintings were torn apart: anything resembling to ancient Chinese culture that was nurtured for centuries was simply destroyed. In an effort to further disconnect modern-day China from its roots, the Chinese Communist Party promoted the simplification of Chinese characters, which take root from Literary Chinese, Chinese that was written during the Han Dynasty. Although the Chinese Communist Party promoted the simplification under the guise of improving literacy rates, some of the changes that were done didn’t make sense. For example, the traditional character for love is 愛2, but the simplified character, 爱, removes 心, which means heart. So there’s love without heart (China Uncensored). This simplification of Chinese characters truly shows that language is entirely plastic. It can be changed at a whim and be done with popular support. With all of the fictional and non-fictional evidence, there is a compelling argument to
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