Island Life by David Slack

If It Quacks Like A Duck

You couldn't fool George Orwell. And it's pretty clear the President of the United States can't fool Christopher Ketcham. He wrote a nice piece last month in which he analysed the degree of duckspeak in an interview with Tim Russert.

He suggested that the President commanded substantial talent as a political speaker, when analysed according to the principles of duckspeak, the language made famous by George Orwell in '1984'.

By those terms, Ketcham judged him to be a doubleplusgood doublethinker.

Duckspeakers need to feel at home with flannel. To do the job well, you should be adept at offering mindless invocations and be able to repeat a few of your favourite slogans as often as you can.

The whole idea of Newspeak is to shrink the vocabulary and eliminate independent thought; if you can't describe it, you can't think it.

Orwell wrote:

Ultimately it was hoped to make articulate speech issue from the larynx without involving the higher brain centres at all. This aim was frankly admitted in the Newspeak word duckspeak, meaning 'to quack like a duck'.

If you click over to the Ketchum piece , you'll see how he analyses the president's words, substituting QUACKS for portions of the sentences that are mostly or entirely meaningless.

I thought this was too good an idea to be applied solely to the leader of the free world, and so I've rigged up a little DuckSpeak translator to assess how the rest of us are speaking. You can click here to use it.

The first thing you'll notice is that it's a little rough around the edges. Why? Because I need to gather more phrases that essentially have no meaning. Yeah, yeah, I know.

Anyway…this is a task I'll be dealing with in spare moments, of which I don't have a great many right at the minute.

What's that you say? You know one? Step right this way. You're most welcome to add a phrase to the database. Just click here, and add whatever phrase you consider to be largely empty of meaning; one that's typically used simply as padding for an argument, be it of the liberal, conservative, Tory or rabid persuasion. We're an equal opportunity outfit here. If we get a decent collection, I'll share it with everyone.

That's all for now; the clocks are striking thirteen.