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Is Russia Becoming More Like ‘1984’?

Reinventing the country’s language
 Listen to streaming audio of this column | MP3

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, Big Brother and the heavy-handed socialist society wanted to restructure the language to eliminate what the government thought were seditious and anti-social words.

The new dialect was called Newspeak; but maybe Orwell should have called it Russian.

The Russian Duma, or lower House, voted almost unanimously to fine ministers who say the word “dollar” when they could have referred to the Russian currency, the “ruble.”

The defense minister recently referred to the dollar as “that thing you are not allowed to say.”

And the economy minister, after citing a cost of “700 million rubles,” struggled a little and said that was “30 million not-rubles.”

When a government starts reinventing the country’s language, the term for that is “not-freedom.”

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Written By

Merrill Matthews is a resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, Texas. Follow him on Twitter: @MerrillMatthews.

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