To be able to look in detail at the functions of language discussed in the last chapter, we need to have terms for talking about the way language works. In this chapter, we explore Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory of signs which will provide a way of discussing how meaning is constructed at the level of the word, how this can change, how words fit together into larger structures (sentences) and what happens when we make choices in sentences. Thinking about words as signs may take a while to get used to; likewise, the use of ‘sign’ in the technical sense introduced in this chapter can also take some time to feel familiar. These models of meaning matter, though, as they help articulate the way in which small changes can have significant consequences for the meaning communicated. Only when we have this model is it possible to discuss what ‘politically correct’ means and how such language functions. We will also revisit jargon by exploring the concept of Newspeak, a way of thinking about language deriving from Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.