Further Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know—Madalena Cruz-Ferreira SpecGram Vol CLIX, No 4 Contents Mediated Modern Pinnacle Sherpa: An emerging logographic writing system—Keith W. Slater

The Dictionary Code

Bryan Allen

Much has been made of the Bible Code, that there are secret messages hidden inside ancient religious texts. Of more interest to linguists, though, is the fact that these secret messages are also hidden inside dictionaries. Groundbreaking research reveals for the first time, exclusively to SpecGram readers, the hidden message found in A Chinese English Dictionary, published in 1988 by the Commercial Press in Beijing. At that time, government censorship required strict adherence to the Party Line. No deviation from the latest 5-year plan was brooked, not even by inspired prophetolinguists, who were thus forced to find a sneaky work-around. Their work has only now been discovered by the courageous undercover research of the CLA.1 The prophetolinguists infiltrated the ranks of the dictionary compilers, then inserted a hidden prophetic narrative in the body of the dictionary detailing how ordinary Chinese people would one day restore capitalism to the country and enjoy unheard-of prosperity. Unlike the code hidden in the Torah, which relies on painfully spelling out words from rearranged letters, the Dictionary Code2 uses the simple but ingenious technique of employing actual example sentences seemingly randomly distributed throughout the book. It is believed that the censors have now (finally) stumbled upon this themselves, and copies of this counter-revolutionary book are now practically impossible to find, replaced throughout China by the prosaic Xinhua Dictionary. We are therefore now at liberty to reveal the truth, without compromising our confidential sources, who remain, even now, in deep cover, seeking to crack the code in other obscure dictionaries. A secret tip-off indicates that the Rosetta Stone was the key to decoding the hidden messages in Nostraptolemy’s Ancient Hieroglyphic-Greek-Coptic Comprehensive Dictionary, a copy of which was believed to have narrowly escaped destruction in the Alexandrian library conflagration. Meanwhile, my personal research has led me to begin an analysis of the twenty-volume OED, for which an astronomic research proposal has been submitted.

Here, then, is the tale of an ordinary Chinese called Xiao Qiang, culled from actual example sentences in the dictionary. In contrast to my normal practice in linguistic research, no data has been massaged to help the theory along. The order of the sentences was revealed by using the formula o=s/p*#42-1. The Chinese head word has been included in brackets to aid the conscientious or cynical SpecGram reader3 who will doubtless want to check the veracity of this article. Some editorial commentary is included in bold.

• Old China suffered untold tribulations (抱—fully)
• The ruthless exploitation of feudalism reduced the peasantry to destitution (穷困—destitute)
• Before liberation they worked themselves to the bone for the capitalists, but still could hardly keep body and soul together (累—toil)

Come the revolution
• Revolutions are festivals of the oppressed and the exploited (节日—festival)
• The hand grenades exploded in the midst of the enemy (开花—blossom)
• Gunfire licked the heavens (连天—sky-rending)
• Revolution means liberating the productive forces (解放—liberate)
• After more than a hundred years of anti-imperialist, anti-feudal struggle, the calamity-ridden Chinese nation at last stood up (深重—very grave)

Life after the revolution
• Hoe in hand, the commune members battled to reclaim the barren hills (挥舞—brandish)
• Pig-breeding not only improves the people’s diet; it makes more manure available (不独—not only)
• The commune members carted manure to the fields from dawn to dusk (起早贪黑—work from dawn to dusk)

Xiao Qiang’s parents are introduced
• He was one of the outstanding pig-breeders of the commune (数得着—be reckoned as outstanding)
• She was only seventeen when she joined the army (不过—only)
• Class love is weightier than Taishan Mountain (情义—comradeship)
• Two combine into onea revisionist concept diametrically opposed to the Marxist concept that ‘one divides not two’ (合二而一)

Xiao Qiang is a good Party boy
• She gave birth to a boy (养—give birth to)
• We hope that he’ll grow up to serve the people heart and soul (指望—look to)
• Xiao Qiang cheerfully went off to school (高兴—happy)
• The more we read Chairman Mao’s works, the clearer our minds become (愈—the more...the better)
• Dancing and skipping with joy, the children followed the PLA men into the village (欢蹦乱跳—vivacious)
• I want to be a PLA man when I grow up (当—serve as)
• I’ll work hard for the Party as long as I live (一息尚存—until one’s last gasp)

Having set the scene the prophetolinguists now introduce doubts
• Without the Communist Party there would be no New China;
   without contradiction nothing would exist;
   the experiment didn’t go as smoothly as we had expected. (没有—without)

Xiao Qiang uses the system to transform the communal pig farm into one that benefits himself
• Pig-breeding is beneficial to both the state and the collective. Why not go ahead with it? (何乐而不为—what is there against it)
• The state allocates huge funds for the development of aid-agriculture industries (拨—allocate)
• The matter has been discussed and satisfactorily arranged (停妥—be in order)
• With mechanization and automation, that pig farm has taken on a completely new look (旧观—former appearance)
• The landlord forced the farm labourers to work themselves to the bone (卖命—work oneself to the bone)
• The boss made the apprentices work fourteen hours a day (让—make)
• The exploiting classes try every means to keep the toiling masses in slavery (奴役—enslave)

The prophecy expands to the whole country
• Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world (一旦—now that)
• Our brigade raises nearly a thousand pigs now (养—raise)
• The capitalists do their utmost to get as much profit as possible (拼命—go all out)
• As for the present, things are far better than at any time in the past (呢—particle)

Final summing up
• It’s a glorious thing to go all out for socialism (光荣—glory)

Example sentences from A Chinese English Dictionary, published in 1988 by the Commercial Press, Beijing.

1 Covert Linguistics Agency.
2 Dictionary Code © soon to be published by Randomsentence Press.
3 Doubting Thomases, all of you.

Further Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowMadalena Cruz-Ferreira
Mediated Modern Pinnacle Sherpa: An emerging logographic writing systemKeith W. Slater
SpecGram Vol CLIX, No 4 Contents