Use of Language in a Clockwork Orange

2093 WordsMay 27, 20059 Pages
Examination of the Use of Language in "A Clockwork Orange" The created patch-work language of Nadsat in the novel, A Clockwork Orange, satirizes the social classes and gang life of Anthony Burgess's futuristic society. The most prominent of these tools being his use of a completely new language and the depiction of family life from the eyes of a fifteen year old English hoodlum. Burgess effectively broke arcane traditions when he wrote A Clockwork Orange by blending two forms of effective speech into the vocabulary of the narrator and protagonist, Alex. Burgess, through his character Alex, uses the common or "proper" method of vernacular in certain situations, while uses his own inventive slang-language called "Nadsat" for others. Many…show more content…
He is less sure with the "gypsy talk," helpful with the rhyming slang--"luscious glory" for "hair" (rhyming with "upper story) and "pretty polly" for "money" (rhyming slang with "lolly" of obscure origin)--and observant with the amputations (such as "guff" for "guffaw," "sarky" for "sarcastic," and "sinny" for "cinema"), although his glossing "pee and em" as "pop and mom" does scant justice to Burgess's skill in demoticizing the nineteenth century and faintly upper-class papa and mama" (Hyman 180). Stanley Edger Hyman, in his efforts to add a glossary and afterword, may not have effectively cheapened the novel, but it certainly takes something away from its meaning when every single word that was meant to be understood through context is highlighted, boldfaced, and slapped with a Webster's-safe dictionary definition. Reading Burgess's A Clockwork Orange is a deceptively easy task when compared to reading the likes of Shakespeare or Marlowe. A good amount of the work involved in reading Burgess' famous novel is the use of contextual perception. One word expressed one way can convey no sense of what its meaning is, but when used in another fashion it becomes decipherable. In the introduction to Stanley Edgar Hyman's Nadsat dictionary, he says: "At first the vocabulary seems incomprehensible: "you could peet it with vellocet or synthemesc or drencrom or one or two other veshches." Then
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