“ Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.” – George Orwell, 1984
This quote exemplifies a link between language, perception, and potential action. In this particular case the state aims to govern people’s actions by controlling the language which thereby controls the people’s thoughts.
The Nazis were aware of this significance and created a communicative environment which perpetuated their political power and facilitated their goals
Changes in structural and stylistic features
Effective linguistic methods of imposing their ideology and silencing their opponents
Heightened attention to / use of existing features:
The perception of Jews as Christian enemies led to extensive anti-Jewish vocabulary woven into the German language during nearly two millennia of Anti-Semitism in Europe.
Nazis expanded on a preexisting vocabulary of contempt for Jews and increased its use. They used this vocabulary to create a false, hateful, and dehumanized image of Jews.
Modifications and Changes in Structure and Style
Creation of designations for new organizations / institutions / policies such as Blitzkrieg and also abbreviations such as Gestapo ( Geheime Staatspolizei ) and SS , which sometimes became intimidating symbols
Creations of new compound words with a particularly high frequency of the compounding elements Volk , Blut , and Rasse (12) (13)
“ Germanization” – process in which archaic German words were reintroduced or new German words were coined to replace foreign words
Modifications and Changes in Structure and Style (cont.)
Redefinition and Re-association of Existing Terms
Abstammungsnachweis (pedigree) changes from referring to animal husbandry to defining human racial origins
Blutschande changes from referring to familial incest to one denoting sexual relations between Aryans and non-Aryans
Words that had previously carried negative connotations became positively charged, such as fanatisch and brutal
Extensive use of euphemisms – opaque and distorted camouflage or code words were given new meanings to render their new purpose ambiguous while also retaining their original meanings as well
Euphemisms used extensively in official and unofficial texts: when the horrific connotations of a particular euphemism became too well known it was requested that a new word be used instead which would ultimately acquire the same connotations
Evakuierung (evacuation) substituted for Auswanderung (emigration) to mean “forced transportation of Jews to ghettos and concentration camps” even though both retained their original usage throughout.
“ Truth is always relative to a conceptual system that is defined in large part by metaphor” and “the people who get to impose their metaphors on the culture get to define what we consider to be true – absolutely and objectively true.” – Townson
Struggle and contest – contains images of war and competitive sports such as boxing
German people compared with boxers wiping blood from their eyes so they can resolutely go into the next round
Anthropology and medicine – Self-exaltation and defamation of opponents through such oppositions as the “health” of the Germanic and the “sickness” of the non-Aryan
Religion – extensive use of Christian imagery and references to the Bible
Hitler presented as a “savior” figure
The people were all “of Adolf Hitler and through Adolf Hitler.” – Herman Goering
Hitler is the “incarnation of the thought of the race.” – V ö lkischer Beobachter (the Nazi Party newspaper)
Technical images – using vocabulary of metal-working where people are the objects rather than the subjects of the activity and also people being referred to as material – has a dehumanizing effect
Methods of propaganda (pamphlets, speeches, etc.) often consisted of blocks of slogans, memorable phrases, and/or claims placed next to each other but which were independent of sentence structure and without logical connectors – (a predominance of nouns with comparatively very few verbs) – the result was appeal to emotions rather than to logic
The Nazi worldview as absolute and final led their discourse to have no room for argument or deviations within its framework
The liturgical nature of Nazi discourse where the role of the masses was restricted to pre-ordained responses required no use of personal intellect and therefore prevented deviation
2) Effective linguistic methods of imposing their ideology and silencing their opponents
“ In the context of Nazi Germany, Volk is almost always translated as ‘ race’ because of the clear intent behind Nazi policy and Hitler’s own obsession with racial purity and pollution.”
Rasse and Volk were not interchangable in Nazi Germany
völkish translates accurately as “ethnic”
“ race” was so empirically defined, even the most zealous Nazis could not accurately describe it.
Nazi writers labeled Jews “racial comrades” ( Rassengenossen)
Nazi writers labeled Aryans as “ethnic comrades” (Volksgenossen)
Neither Hitler nor the other major Nazis spoke of a racial state (Rassenstaat). Instead they used such terms as Volkskörper (body politic), Volksgemeinschaft (ethnic community) and Volksseele (ethnic soul) (back)
“ The intentions behind the attempted regulation of language are clear: by seeking to impose a standardized discourse, the fascists wished to impose a standard worldview, stifle opposition, and commit the population to their policies – in other words, the regulation of language serves to regulate thought and behavior.” – Townson
Klemperer, Victor, and Roderick H. Watt. An Annotated Edition of Victor Klemperer's LTI, Notizbuch eines Philologen . Studies in German Thought and History. Vol. 17. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997.
Koonz, Claudia. The Nazi Conscience . Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2003.
Michael, Robert, and Karin Doerr. Nazi-Deutsch/Nazi German : An English Lexicon of the Language of the Third Reich . Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2002.
Pringle, Heather Anne. The Master Plan : Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust . 1st ed. New York: Hyperion, 2006.
Townson, Michael. Mother-tongue and fatherland : Language and politics in German . Manchester ; New York; New York: Manchester University Press; Distributed in the USA and Canada by St. Martin's Press, 1992.