The Perl script that rewrote Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four

By William Entriken

2 minutes

I always dreamed of publishing my first book, a specific project, but it meant waiting for the 70th anniversary of George Orwell’s death.

That’s an odd thing to wait for. And when it happened, along with COVID, I finally had the chance and plenty of free time to make it happen.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

I’ve always had special connections to the book Nineteen Eighty-Four. Closely studying Apple, Inc. since the beginning (the original “won’t be like Nineteen Eighty-Four” company), my own journey that crossed paths with Edward Snowden’s and plenty of other related books.

But my specific thesis was: could this book be rewritten (“translated”) to change it from a literary fiction about a distant dystopian future into a non-fiction prediction of today? Basically everything Orwell said was right. He was so right that even today as his future is unfolding, we remind ourselves “1984 was a warning, not a playbook!”

If Orwell was so right, this should be an easy task. You should be able to do it with a Perl script. A short Perl script. I wrote that Perl script.

From Newspeak to hashtags

Plenty of people have talked about how Nineteen Eighty-Four is real. Or how they would rewrite the book. I studied as much as I could find and asked questions. The Ministry of Plenty, that’s the Federal Reserve. The Ministry of Love, that’s Guantanamo Bay, room 101, that’s Enhanced Interrogations.

All of was previously called Newspeak is actually just hashtags. Doublethink is #mansplaining, crimestop is #factcheck, facecrime is #implicitbias. Everything is one-to-one, Perl eats this for breakfast.

Overall there ar 1,700 substitutions.

The script is published here.

As I plowed through these “translations”, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, this might actually work. This might actually achieve the creative vision I had.


I’m sure more successful authors are laughing at me… 50 pitches is barely even trying!

Of course no literary agent would touch this project. I tried pretty hard to find one. And authors don’t approach publishers.

But in the end I was able to self-publish. And per the mission of this blog, the whole reason I’m writing is for me. So I’m really happy with the outcome. Nineteen Eight-Five is not available in US or ES.


If you are intrigued about Nineteen Eighty-Four as much as me, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the translations. Because I might just publish a new update to the book as language changes further.

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