Magazine May 23, 2016, Issue

I Speak, Therefore I Am

The Language Animal: The Full Shape of the Human Linguistic Capacity, by Charles Taylor (Belknap, 368 pp., $35)

Newspeak is the artificial, regimented, highly condensed language of the totalitarian society of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. So reduced is its expressive power that certain ideas easily conveyable in (say) ordinary English become, for the Newspeaker, unsayable, and ultimately unthinkable. That is, of course, exactly what its creators intend.

Philosopher Charles Taylor does not mention Newspeak in The Language Animal, which is odd, because it is an apt and obvious analogy for the highly influential but deeply flawed conception of language he devotes the book to criticizing. Perhaps he is being politic; certainly the target of his attack has had some eminent

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In This Issue



Books, Arts & Manners


Politics & Policy


The Apartment of Labor Scott Lincicome’s comprehensive and illuminating article “The Truth about Trade” (April 11) describes several government policies that have acted to exacerbate current labor-market inefficiencies. One could speculate ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ As Abraham Lincoln said, “You’re fired.” ‐ Protesters, many of them riotous, dogged Donald Trump in southern California. In Costa Mesa, they blocked an interstate, threw debris at passing cars, ...
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