Pragmatist Arrested, Charged—Associated Linguists Press SpecGram Vol CLII, No 1 Contents How To Make A Linguistic Theory—Metalleus

A Lost Chapter from The Little Prince

By Olaf Olafson

After leaving the king, the prince came to a planet where a young, important-looking woman worked imperiously at a map and a dictionary. Globes and rolled-up maps surrounded her. As he approached she barked out, “What do you call the object into which you put the clothing you are taking with you on a trip?”

“Excuse me,” answered the prince, who could never be interested in such things, “have you seen my rose? It’s missing.”

“The quantity of consonants in the English language is constant. If omitted in one place, they turn up in another. When a Bostonian ‘pahks’ his ‘cah,’ the lost r’s migrate southwest, causing a Texan to ‘warsh’ his car and invest in ‘erl wells.’ ”

“I can’t use that,” she answered, “try to think of something else!”

“Something else? But my rose is alone.”

Seeing that her visitor was quite different from the ordinary interlocutor, the young, important-looking woman paused and sternly informed him that she was a dialect geographer and was using maps to pin down where people use different words for the same thing. She was making an isogloss, she said, for the afore-mentioned, and she would be most appreciative if he would tell her where he came from and what word he used for the “object.”

The prince couldn’t imagine any geographic, or even planetary variation on such a basic item. He asked, “What have others told you?”

“There are no others. You are my first informant.”

Wondering what it was he was in for [“infor”mant], the prince responded, “What do you call the thing—”

“I ask the questions!” she snapped. Seeing how shocked the prince was at her bluntness, she softened and said, “I use the word ‘port,’ though I’ve heard that some use ‘suitcase.’ What do you use?”

The prince was completely confused, and after looking around futilely for his flower, he started to leave. As he stepped off the planet, he thought, “What’s in a name? I’m looking for a rose, not a washing machine.”

Pragmatist Arrested, Charged—Associated Linguists Press
How To Make A Linguistic Theory—Metalleus
SpecGram Vol CLII, No 1 Contents