Header image of wall of bricks Open menu Close menu


A manner of speaking.

English speak.

This combining form grew out of Newspeak, a language described in George Orwell's book Nineteen Eighty-four; with lower-case initial that word now refers more generally to ambiguous euphemistic language in political propaganda. Doublespeak, to say one thing but mean another, was drawn from the use of doublethink in the book, and oldspeak, normal English usage as opposed to technical or propagandist language, was coined as a humorous inversion of Newspeak. Other examples invented on their model to indicate the language or special vocabulary of a group include Eurospeak, jargon in European Union documents or statements; technospeak, incomprehensible technical jargon (and computerspeak, specifically the technical jargon of computing); teenspeak, the language and way of speaking of teenagers; Airspeak and Seaspeak, formal languages used by pilots and sailors respectively to limit the risk of misunderstanding; and upspeak, a tendency to end statements with a raised inflection as though asking a question. The form is active in the language and some short-lived formations employ it: customerspeak, mobspeak, therapyspeak.

Copyright © Michael Quinion 2008–. All rights reserved. Your comments are very welcome.