The Γραμματο-Χαοτικον Manifesto
[Editor’s Note: We received the following at our main offices, wrapped around a fairly old piece of salmon. The accompanying instructions were clear—print the Manifesto in its entirety in the next issue, or suffer the consequences—weekly deliveries of day-old fish wrapped in more screeds and manifestos. We relented, not because we are weak, but because the fish is strong.]
We are the Γραμματο-Χαοτικον, an underground alliance of linguists, philologists, and polyglots. Our self-appointed
role is to encourage arbitrary and capricious change both in Language and among languages, world-wide.
Our exploits are legion, and though heretofore anonymous, nonetheless famous. A few examples will illustrate our reach:
Our purposes in these acts are simple and single-minded. We seek to enrich the languages of the world through arbitrary and capricious change in order to:
the time of the invention of the horseless carriage, any educated person could tell you that it was a grammatical sin to mix Greek and Latin roots. Either ipsomobile or autokinetikon would have been etymologically felicitous. Instead, we brought forth the philological abomination you all know and love today.
- post-positive not!—Not only did this monstrosity inspire nausea among the educated, it even inspired a folk re-analysis of Shakespeare: “I fear thee. Not!” Clearly a banner day for us.
- emoticons—Early on, simple html-like tags were used as a supplemental channel to make up for the loss of tone and expressions in the burgeoning and informal yet potentially impersonal new medium. While
<g> served all the right sociolinguistic roles, they were boring. Iconic interpretation of sideways punctuation-cum-facial expression is so much more interesting.
- bling-bling—While our original goal of WASPy 80+ grandmothers using bling-bling unselfconsciously by the end of 2007 is perhaps a stretch, we are pleased with the spread of this visually onomatopoetic lexeme.
- le weekend—Among others that give l’Académie fits. The French are an easy but rewarding target. The grand irony is that the Académie Française itself was originally the doing of our European forebears.
- etc.—Infixes, circumfixes, vowel harmony, and polysynthetic morphosyntax, among countless other fascinating features, are all of our making, whether in whole or in part.
We seek the aid and succor of lovers of Language world-wide who find that these goals resonate with them. From them we ask the continued support of our work in the form of claims of native-speaker familiarity with target constructions and usages; insinuation of the notion of the validity of study of such phenomena in grad student lounges and faculty meetings; and the teaching of such forms to children and adolescents to engender true native-speaker competency.
- Elevate the level of complexity in language in order to stimulate the minds of speakers and improve the quality of irony, sarcasm, puns, and other forms of word-play.
- Push the evolution of Language beyond the realm of historical-linguistically plausible change out to the limits of the neurologically possible.
- Provide contentious data to fuel doctoral theses and post-doctoral research for decades to come, if not longer.
Our current primary project is the leveling of certain related forms to the syntactic versatility of all, including any, some, and none. Success is defined as the unselfconscious usage of these forms in exact parallel to the usage of all.
Current usage: You can’t fool all the people all the time.
Target usage: You can fool some the people some the time.
Current usage: You can’t win ’em all.
Target usage: Heck, you can’t even win ’em any.
Current usage: The winner takes it all.
Target usage: The loser takes it none.
Regardless of affiliation with a particular school of linguistic thought, you owe it to the grad students of the future—our inheritors—to make this dream a reality.
We’re all in this boat called Linguistics together. We’re none going to make it on our own. We’re any able to contribute to the cause—and we’re some able to contribute more than others. Do it!