can’t see the forest

A Pracktickal Newe Reviſionne of the Engliſh Tongue.

Posted in English, Grammar, humor, intelligent design, languages, Psychology, Science by Curtis on 10/11/06

Now, doesn’t that title take you back to the good olde days when medial s’s used to be written: ſ ?

I had this idea today and I just wanted to put it down and see where it goes:

The first thing I’m going to do is insist that the verb to be and in fact every emphatic verb of any sort always be expressed in the subjunctive mood. Tell It Like It May Be. An alternative might be: Tell It As It Seems. Just to get a feel, take a look at the following dialog from Three Days of the Condor before and after a few shakes of my linguistick magick wand. I am not altogether positive why the letters are all lower-case. Oh, well:

Jimmy: Hey, Shakespeare! How’s it going?
Turner: Terrific. I’m building up a great collection of rejection slips.
Jimmy: Yeah, I know the feeling. I always wanted to be Escoffier.
Turner: Well, maybe it’s not too late. You know, Van Gogh was thirty before he started to paint.
Jimmy: No kiddin’?
Turner: There’s no mayonnaise on Dr. Lappe. On the other hand, Mozart was three when he started to play the piano, and he was composing at six.
Jimmy: Fast starter. ‘S probably better.
Turner: Well, I don’t know. Van Gogh never sold a painting in a whole lifetime. Mozart died a pauper. 

No, no, no. No. This seems to be much better:

Jimmy: Hey Shakespeare! How seems it to be going?
Turner: Terrific, seemingly! I may be building up a great collection of rejection slips.
Jimmy: Yeah, I know the feeling, it seems. I always wanted, it appears, to seem to be Escoffier.
Turner: Well, maybe it’s not too late. You might know, Van Gogh seemed to be thirty before he apparently started to paint.
Jimmy: no kiddin’?
Turner: Perhaps. It doesn’t look as if there could be any mayonnaise on Dr. Lappe; on the other hand, Mozart could have been three when he first seemed to play the piano, and he might have seemed to be composing as early as the age of six.
Jimmy: Fast starter, I reckon. It seems probably to be better, seemingly.
Turner: Well, I posit not to know. Van Gogh, maybe, never sold a painting in a whole lifetime. Mozart reportedly died a pauper, or so it would seem to appear.

Sure, it’s exaggerated. It’s difficult. It seems awful. But I’m telling you, I think it might pay big dividends for future generations. The idea isn’t to make language more confusing, that’s just an irksome byproduct. The idea is to influence thought processes with a perpetually unattainable quality assurance standard. And since everyone generally wants communication to be more efficient, in most expository types of situations, there would be a natural urge to always learn more even though you could never really express your idea with any certainty without further evolution of the language. And perhaps never so.

The next step, not quite as radical but every bit as important, would be to dispose of the verb know, the adjective certain, and all analogs to and derivatives of these words. We could just impose the subjunctive mood again—as I did in the example above, come to think of it—but I think it would be better to get rid of them altogether. Perhaps.

They could be replaced with words like think, believe, and maybe even feel. Certain or sure or similar adjectives must be used with liquefying auxiliaries as well, which is especially easy when they generally require a predicating verb like to be (that is, to seem.)

I will now seem to quote Shakespeare in my own translation: To ſeem to be, or not to ſeem to be: that ſeems to be the queſtion.

This is just the starting point, people. The littlest little spark. Just wait, or seem to, at least. It’ll take centuries to perfect, but eventually all those foreign languages will be imitating us Anglophones—perhaps even more voraciously than they seemingly already are.

Question Mark -- or does it seem to be?



2 Responses

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  1. zilla said, on 10/12/06 at 5:13 pm

    Oh, your mind, Curt, is abfolutely, corufcatingly, brilliant — an unmitigated, unadulterated, veritable playground of pofibility.

    Funny, I mentioned fibilance at the end of my poft today.

    It appears the hive is hiving again. Could it be fynchronicity?

    Thanks for some fun today, oh nimble-minded one.

  2. tellitlikeitis said, on 10/12/06 at 5:39 pm

    You seem to be quite welcome—or so it would appear.

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