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Stephen  McElroy   Textual  Analysis   November  7,  2011       For  this  assignment  in  textual  analysis,  I  set  out  to  engage  in  some  “disciplined  play”   with  George  Orwell’s  Nineteen  Eighty  Four.    One  of  my  favorite  books,  Nineteen  Eighty  Four   is  as  influential  a  text  as  any  written  in  the  twentieth  century.  The  story  of  Winston’s  trials   under  the  rule  of  Ingsoc  and  his  eventual  succumbing  to  the  thought  police  is  woven  into   our  culture,  and  elements  of  Orwell’s  fictional  lexicon  remain  with  us  now  in  our  everyday   language.  For  example,  the  words  newspeak  and  doublethink,  each  appearing  in  the  novel   (82  and  30  times,  respectively,  according  to  TAPoRware),  can  be  seen  rising  out  of  the  x-­‐ axis  of  Google’s  ngram  viewer  and  bookworm  in  the  years  following  the  book’s  publication   in  1949.  One  word  that  is  often  attributed  to  Orwell  but  that  does  not  appear  in  his  novel  is   ‘doublespeak’  –  which  word,  beginning  in  the  late  1980’s  (according  to  Google  ngrams)  is   printed  in  more  books  than  its  genuine  counterpart,  doublethink.    Other  than  perhaps  this   last  relational  fact,  all  the  preceding  information  could  have  been  discerned  without  the  use   of  either  TAPoRware  or  Google/bookworm  ngrams.  These  tools  simply  make  analysis   nearly  instantaneous  –  admittedly  no  small  feat.    The  following  is  a  look  into  and  summary   of  some  of  the  other  analytical  exercises  I  ran  with  these  tools.     First,  the  basic  stats:  not  including  the  Glasgow  stop  words,  Nineteen  Eighty  Four   (and  its  appendix)  contains  9,357  unique  words  and  42841  total  words  (103,416  words   including  stop  words).    The  top  five  words,  in  descending  order,  are  Winston  (appearing   450  times),  said  (339),  party  (280),  like  (203),  and  time  (197).    That  the  protagonist’s  name   is  the  most  frequently  appearing  word  is  no  surprise,  nor  is  the  fact  that  the  word  ‘party’   appears  often.    What  did  surprise  me  (although  I  admit  it  has  been  a  few  years  since  I  read   the  book  cover-­‐to-­‐cover)  was  the  face  that  ‘O’Brien’  is  the  eighth  most  frequently  appearing   word  (173  times),  appearing  more  than  twice  as  often  as  the  name  of  Winston’s  love   interest,  Julia  (79  times).  The  word  ‘big’  appears  93  times;  79  of  those  times  (as  I   discovered  with  the  co-­‐occurrence  tool),  it  was  immediately  followed  by  ‘brother,’  which   again  is  no  surprise.    It  may  be  of  some  interest  to  note  that  ‘Big  Brother’  and  ‘Julia’  appear   the  same  number  of  times  –  after  all,  the  novel’s  ominous  parting  words  are  “he  loved  Big   Brother.”    This  thought  led  me  to  look  at  the  distributions  of  mentions  of  Julia  and  Big   Brother  over  the  course  of  the  novel,  and  the  graphical  depiction  of  those  distributions  are   strikingly  inverted.    A  majority  of  O’Brien’s  mentions  are  near  the  very  end,  when  Winston   is  getting  his  re-­‐education  in  ‘room  101’  (ten  mentions).         Orwell’s  other  most  famous  and  influential  work,  the  essay  “Politics  and  the  English   Language,”  is  also  often  cited  by  political  wonks  and  cultural  critics.    In  it,  he  critiques  the   meaningless,  pretentious  diction  that  he  sees  appearing  in  newspapers,  journals,  and   political  speeches  and  thereby  choking  up  society’s  ability  to  think  (which  theme  plays  a   major  role  in  1984).    One  of  Orwell’s  chief  complaints  is  the  growing  adherence  to  the   “notion  that  Latin  or  Greek  words  are  grander  than  Saxon  ones.”    Putting  Orwell  to  the   Orwell  test,  I  wanted  to  see  if  1984  was  at  all  guilty  of  this  crime.    Unfortunately,  the  closest   thing  to  sorting  the  origin  of  words  in  TAPoRware  is  the  “Speech  Tagger,”  which  purports   to  be  able  to  find  and  tag  “Foreign”  words.    Even  more  unfortunate  is  the  fact  that  the  tool  is   slow  (and  admittedly  so  in  the  tool’s  ‘About’  wiki)  and  not  intended  to  tag  large  works,   novels  included.    So,  just  to  test  the  tool,  I  ran  the  paragraph  from  ‘Politics’  in  which  Orwell  

names  a  list  of  foreign  words  that  he  considers  pretentious.    To  its  credit,  the  Speech   Tagger  found  and  tagged  “status  quo,”  but  it  did  not  find  cul  de  sac,  ancien  regime,  deus  ex   machina,  mutatis  mutandis,  gleichschaltung,  or  weltanschauung.    It  would  be  conceivably   useful  to  integrate,  say,  the  OED  (we  can  dream,  right?)  into  a  toolset  like  TAPoRware  so   that  the  origins  of  words  could  be  a  part  of  any  analysis.    But,  since  that  hasn’t  been   arranged  yet,  I  did  the  next-­‐best  thing  and  used  the  comparator  tool,  comparing  Orwell’s   essay  to  Orwell’s  novel,  looking  to  see  if  any  of  the  words  he  claims  to  disdain  in  the  essay   appear  in  the  novel.    The  results  were  inconclusive,  but  I  found  no  damning  evidence.     Although  I  haven’t  uncovered  any  earth-­‐shattering  revelations  about  Orwell  or  his   works  using  TAPoRware  or  Google  Ngrams,  I  have  added  to  my  own  personal   understanding  of  Nineteen  Eighty  Four,  if  for  no  other  reason  than  working  with  these  tools   –  and  drawing  any  kind  of  conclusions  from  them  –  requires  a  certain  level  of  engagement   that  a  simple  reading  does  not  require.    For  instance,  until  I  searched  Ngrams  for   “Winston,”  it  had  never  occurred  to  me  that  the  protagonist  took  (or  at  least  shared)  his   name  with  England’s  revered  war-­‐time  Prime  Minister  (I  am  ashamed  to  admit  this).    To   even  begin  to  use  these  tools  invokes  different  ways  of  seeing.  

Textual Analysis