CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

“Spin,” a contemporary English term for a type of language that George Orwell coined as “newspeak” or “doublespeak,” echoes the French expression langue de bois, which made its appearance in the French media during the Solidarno?? movement in Poland in the early 1980s. But today, this obfuscatory form of language is by no means the exclusive preserve of totalitarian regimes. It is all-pervasive in political speech-making in contemporary democracies and among diplomats, in the media, in the world of “communication” and marketing, and in advertising. It has become central to our contemporary world. Three aspects are addressed here. First, from the historical and geopolitical angle, we show that “spin,” or langue de bois, does not have the same significance in the former communist bloc as in democratic regimes. Secondly, while the French term langue de bois covers multiple meanings and situations, other languages, such as English, use specific expressions in each case; finally, we delve beyond the simplistic view of right and wrong where, on the one hand, the truth must always be spoken and no real democracy can exist without it, and on the other hand, the language of “spin” with its many permutations is purely a sinister emanation from an Orwellian world.


  • langue de bois
  • spin
  • Orwell
  • newspeak
  • soviet-speak
  • totalitarian regime
  • democratic regime
  • diplomatic language
  • spin doctor
  • political correctness
  • storytelling
  • straight talk
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