“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words… After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other words? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take ‘good’ for instance. If you have a word like ‘good,’ what need is there for a word like ‘bad’? ‘Ungood’ will do just as well—better, because it’s an exact opposite, which the other is not. Or again, if you want a stronger version of ‘good,’ what sense is there in having a whole string of useless words like ‘excellent’ and ‘splendid’ and all the rest of them? ‘Plusgood’ covers the meaning, or ‘doubleplusgood’ if you want something stronger still…in the end the whole notion of goodness and badness will be covered by only six words—in reality, only one word.”
~George Orwell, 1984
I thought of the above quotation as I flipped through my little brother’s elementary school workbook containing this definition of literature: fiction vs. nonfiction. I wondered what the writer had been thinking to use fiction and non-fiction as a realistic comparison rather than fact and fiction or truth and falsehood.
It is worth noting that we are taught in school that it is expected to use words that are not as precise as they should be. How very different are the words ‘ungood’ and ‘bad’ in meaning; how much more different are ‘nonfiction’ and ‘truth’. When one walks into a classroom today, “truth” is a foreign idea while it is the very thing that Jesus said sets us free and must be stood for.
This is a warning: let us never water down the importance of strength in the words we use. What would the world be like if the word ‘love’ is replaced with ‘unhate’?