Duckspeak Saturday


Sean Spicer regularly uses the stupefying form of speech that George Orwell called ‘duckspeak’

The Trumps’ nine-day journey outside the United States was “incredible, historic … because it truly was an extraordinary week.” It was “unprecedented.” “We’ve never seen before at this point in a presidency such sweeping reassurance of American interest,” said press secretary Sean Spicer.

Most of what Spicer had to say in his press briefing and Q&A on May 30 was—to be generous—intelligible if empty or, in the case of his example of “fake news,” absurdly misleading, concerning as it did a BBC error that was quickly corrected. But my point here is more general—his vocabulary and his style.

“Incredible graciousness”—Saudi Arabia’s monarchy. “A historic turning point that people will be talking about for many years to come”—his speech in Riyadh. “Right direction”—that’s where Trump moved NATO. “Holistic solution”—that’s what’s in store for ISIS. “Robust agenda”—that’s what Trump has. “Unbelievably qualified”—his Cabinet. “Fairly unbelievable”—his relationship with Angela Merkel. “Did a great job”—that’s what the president did, though I expect it will serve for my 11-year-old grandson’s forthcoming performance in the school play.

As for “such sweeping reassurance,” what was that again? Reassurance (of foreigners) that America is interested in the world? Assurance (in the eyes of Americans) that America stands first?

But reader, I am not, I hope, shooting inept fish in a barrel of the poorly educated. I’m after (sorry) bigger game.

Spicer’s offering is not aimless noise. It has a purpose. It reduces the world to black-and-white. It shows decisiveness. It’s the verbal equivalent of a body slam or a phony smile. Spicer doesn’t use other Newspeak locutions like doubleplusungood—though the time may come when his boss resorts to it on Twitter, since its 16 characters take up barely more than half the space of “the enemy of the American people,” allowing room for a SAD sequence—but he might as well. The point is to show definiteness and to discourage any reaction besides Yes! or No!

Thus, for example, “such sweeping reassurance of American interest” does not have to mean either “sweeping reassurance that America is interested” or “sweeping reassurance that American interest is good.” Either interpretation will do, or yet anything else you might think of, because the phrase has accomplished its goal of stringing together three doubleplusgood terms: “sweeping,” “reassurance” and “American.” Each is a quick grin signaling approval. Three missions accomplished.

Spicer’s style rouses the faithful by short-circuiting any neural pathway that might lend itself to a complex thought. It resembles the form of speech that George Orwell described, in his appendix to 1984, as duckspeak,

whose intention was to make speech, and especially speech on any subject not ideologically neutral, as nearly as possible independent of consciousness.

That is, Spicerisms—like Trumpisms, though less spicy—are bursts of attitude. They are not offered as reasons to think that something is true but affirmations that something is good or bad. They are either tropisms of the mouth or punctuation marks. They are either schmaltzy or percussive. Sad!


About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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11 Responses to Duckspeak Saturday

  1. Den says:

    The Presidency has been turned into a clown show, only this clown show is not funny, way not funny, unless you consider bribery, corruption, and treason virtues.

    Sick! A head cold moved in to my cranium, sniff, cough, sniff, cough, ugh. peroxide and saline in my beak seem to have toned down the ferocity somewhat.

    Stupid yard monkey here weed whacked my St.Johns Wort clean off, just as it was producing flowers, asshole, I had a fence around it, dumbass kicked it to the side and scalped it right off.

    He doesn’t like me anyway because I keep finding more work for him to do. They finally cleaned up what was left of the terror tree after 3 months, claiming they had to wait for it to dry out, bullshit! It’s been dry 2 months ago. I was logging back in the 60’s and 70’s and know a little something, duh!

    Trumpie neighbor praising their savior for doing such a good job pissing off the rest of the World

    I have never seen so much stupid all in one place, but I suppose after all it is a trailer park.


  2. Carol ٩(-̮̮̃-̃)۶ says:

    That is baloney why they left the tree mess laying there. Someone just didn’t do their job. I have to pick up wood from felled trees here, you get it out of where it fell and put it somewhere else. Since I lost my crabapple and my dead Russian Olive, I just yesterday finished moving the Olive to a pile in the backyard, near the bonfire pit. I only left it there all this time because I didn’t find time to move it. I’d hoped it would move itself, lol.


  3. Carol ٩(-̮̮̃-̃)۶ says:

    That ‘duckspeak’ doesn’t get me. Every time a Trump mouthpiece speaks, I can see right through them. Just like watching politicians try to evade answering a question from a reporter. They all seem to know how to deflect and I’m always yelling at the TV, “JUST ANSWER THE DAMN QUESTION!”


  4. Carol ٩(-̮̮̃-̃)۶ says:

    Got everything mowed yesterday, it was perfect weather. Roaring sunshine, decent temp and REALLY low humidity of 25 percent. That shocked me. I’ve only been doing things in the house so far this morning and my freshly washed and blown dry head is sweating. Sitting here to catch up with DWF while my head cools down, kitchen work coming up. No cooking, but I went grocery shopping Thursday and jammed everything into the fridge and I need to fix that. Plus I have to make salads and have all new items that need to be washed/cut up for the week. Ugh. I like it better when I have the peppers and onions cut up in bowl, the lettuce already washed and in the lettuce bowl, the kale washed and in a bag, the zucchini washed and wrapped in Glad Wrap. Just have to take the stuff out and toss it in bowls. Today EVERYthing has to be cleaned and/or cut up.

    Plus we’re waiting for Bob’s barber. She’s coming out after 1:00. He was going to have her out a couple Saturdays ago, but that was the day I was going out for Margaritas. Told him to cancel and of course, he got mad. Too bad, I LOVE Suzanne and would hate to miss seeing her. She’s a Liberal and she has a barber shop. I love to hear her stories about her Trump-loving customers.


  5. Carol ٩(-̮̮̃-̃)۶ says:

    I wonder how Jim is doing today. 😦 I’m going to write to him soon as I post this.


  6. David B. Benson says:

    Short way to the Tokyo Seoul in 26 minutes.


    • David B. Benson says:

      Short way back with a huge salmon pink sunset followed by a desultory thunderstorm. I made the mistake of wearing my sun hat with ventilation holes so now my hair is damp. Hurried home so the daily total is just 53 minutes.

      Day 7: 338+53=391 minutes.


  7. Den says:

    Watch out in your local rivers and streams for these guys:


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