Books, Culture, Musings

A Plan For Reforming English Spelling

Year 1: that useless letter ‘c’ would be dropped to be replaced either by a ‘k’ or ‘s’, and likewise ‘x’. The only case in which ‘c’ would be retained would be the ‘ch’ formation of which more later.
Year 2: reform ‘w’ spelling, so that ‘which’ and ‘won’ would take the same konsonant,
Year 3: might well abolish ‘y’ replasing it with ‘i’
Iear 4: fiks the ‘g/j’ anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, improvement would kontinue iear bai iear.
Iear 5: do awai with useless double konsonants
Iears 6-12: modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.
Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridundant letez ‘c’, ‘y’ and ‘x’ – bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez – tu riplais ‘ch’, ‘sh’ and ‘th’ rispektivli. Fainali, xen, after sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl reform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Often attributed to Mark Twain but believed to have been by an MJ Shields: adapted from Henry Hitchings’ fabulous book “The Language Wars – A History of Proper English”

Musings

Keeping Secrets And Why We Hide Things

Her blue notebook lay open; a promising vista into the subterraneous crevices in the mind of a fellow human being, a stranger whose variant thoughts (and notes of these), orthogonal to mine, might deflect my own thinking onto a different axis. Her notebook was a virtual open invitation, so to speak, and curious cat that I am I R.S.V.P’d and took a peek out of the corner of my eye while pretending to look out the window. Two minutes later she, absentmindedly (or was it?), closed her notebook and kept it closed. My corner-eye reading skills are positively nugatory and I had deciphered nothing; and even though whatever was in her notebook was none of my business, I am pretty sure whatever it was would have been unfathomable anyway.

I was myself ┬áin the cafe, sharpening my programming skills, and in the process of creating a class object which for fun I was thinking of naming ‘Prick’ with the class attributes: ‘length’ and ‘size’. Yet I was nervous: why? There better be no one standing over my shoulder! No one else has access to my computer (apart from the NSA via Google cookies) and in any case my penis code would be wiped out as soon as I shut the bash unix shell. Yet I was nervous; the naughty boy playing with his fly, apprehensive an adult would walk in any minute. Interestingly, even innocuous items lying around my flat have to be hidden if anyone’s coming round. Why do we hide things:

  1. It’s none of other people’s goddamn business [hard to argue but if you’re writing the new ‘Mein Kampf’ maybe it’s our business]
  2. Shame [people might think us stupid and simpleminded]
  3. Fear [people might think us deviant and dangerous]
  4. Protectiveness [people might steal our ideas and, god forbid, become millionaires off our ideas while we remain in penury]
  5. Egoism [we think something divine has been revealed to us and for us only]

All the written things we hide today will be revealed tomorrow when we die. When one thinks of all the billions who have been before us and all their secrets, little and great, lecherous and noble, high-minded and base: would their lives not have been more delightful and true if they had shared their secret nuggets; would their souls not have carried a lighter burden; would their contributions not have been loftier; their thoughts challenged and refined like fine whiskey? Was it really worthwhile keeping those secrets all the way to the grave?

Books, Culture, Musings

Cafe Wit

“Cafe wit may be divided into jokes about those who are absent and jibes at those who are present. This kind of wittiness is known elsewhere as mere vulgarity. There’s no greater proof of an impoverished mind than its inability to be witty except at other people’s expense”

– Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

That just about rules out all comedy and satire which, to be candid, are only funny when you’re not the butt of the joke. Still …