‘You haven’t a real appreciation of Newspeak, Winston,’ he said almost sadly. ‘Even when you write it you’re still thinking in Oldspeak. I’ve read some of those pieces that you write in The Times occasionally. They’re good enough, but they’re translations. In your heart you’d prefer to stick to Oldspeak, with all its vagueness and its useless shades of meaning. You don’t grasp the beauty of the destruction of words. Do you know that Newspeak is the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year?’
Winston did know that, of course. He smiled, sympathetically he hoped, not trusting himself to speak. Syme bit off another fragment of the dark-coloured bread, chewed it briefly, and went on:
‘Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?’
A grasp of 900 pictographs will allow access to 90 per cent of content, as Chinese media continues a process of linguistic simplification, according to an education ministry survey which examined “900m characters used in more than 8.9m files chosen from newspapers, magazines, the internet and television”, according to Xinhua news agency.
Although Reuters notes that many traditional, aka “complex”, characters are still used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and in Chinese expat communities abroad, linguistic homogenisation, and with it simplification, are gradually consigning these to history as mainland Chinese influence grows.