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What "Orwellian" really means - Noah Tavlin

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If you’ve watched the news or followed politics, chances are you’ve heard the term Orwellian thrown around in one context or another. But have you ever stopped to think about what it really means, or why it’s used so often? Noah Tavlin dissects the term.

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TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

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  • Educator Noah Tavlin
  • Director Jeremiah Dickey
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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Additional Resources for you to Explore
Now you know what 'Orwellian' means. But do you really know? Check out this blog, "Do you really know what 'Orwellian' means?" from the Guardian. The NSA scandal has led many critics to call the U.S. government 'Orwellian.' What would Orwell say about our society today? If you're convinced that none of Orwell's writing about the future has come true, prepare to be freaked out by these five accurate Orwell predictions.

The word 'Orwellian' gets thrown around a lot by people who possess a murky idea of what it actually means. Jason Slotkin, for The Atlantic, explains why. The NCTE presents the Doublespeak Award each year to the person or group of people who manipulate language in the most sinister way. Here is a list of past winners. Anyone sound familiar?

In order to recognize when language is being manipulated, one has to be able to recognize who has power. Watch this TED-Ed lesson on reading power by Eric Liu. The late, great comedian George Carlin perfectly identified Orwellian manipulation of language in the term 'Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder', previously known as 'Shell Shock'. Are people afraid of words that speak the truth?

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Noah Tavlin
  • Director Jeremiah Dickey
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

Share

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