The Art of the -ome
Z. En ‘Bud’ Dhist
Despite the fact that, contrary to my expectations, I did not receive a request to be an invited speaker at the CELGA workshop “Perspectives on the Morphome” this month, I thought it important for me to reveal my important work in the important field of -ome-ology (of which the study of morphomes is but a minor, somewhat important component).
As others have given adequately clear descriptions of morphomes (that is to say, sufficiently clear so as to avoid the derogatory label “gibberish” while not so clear as to have to endure the dangerous label “falsifiable”), I will presuppose familiarity with that concept.
As Weaselflinger (2008) has pointed out:
Some advances do draw attention, but the
attention itself remains localized, and the
wider significance of the advance isn’t
recognized for quite some time.
The morphome is exactly such a case—under-appreciated and under-utilized. In fact, we can readily and productively generalize from the concept of the morphome to other areas of linguistics, and bring -omic-style analyses to bear on other phenomena.
For example, so-called snowclones, named after the clichéd half-truth that “eskimos have X words for snow”, or even more general forms, “Xs have Y words for Z”, are syntactomes. Unless they are semantomes. Either way, the value of such an analysis is clear.
The Interpreter’s Dictionary of Linguistic Argumentation is nothing more than a catalog of linguistic argumentomes, many of which are specializations of snowclone semantomes. (Yes, they are probably semantomes. Sure.)
Even the productive phonological meta-rule of -ome name formation (provided partially below) can be seen as a morphophonome. (Morphophonomes should not be confused with phonomes. (Thanks, anonymous reviewer!) Phonomes should not be confused with the “phone ‘ome”, a unit of extra-terrestriality used chiefly in the UK.)
-eme → -ome / __#
-Vm → -ome / __C*V*C*V*#
-Vm → -om
ø → -ome / __#
Contemplation of the meta-ness of this -omic rule is a first step toward a potential philosophical paradox, similar to Russell’s antinomy (i.e., the question of whether the set of all sets that do not contain themselves contains itself or not). Namely, does the set of -omic entities include -omic meta-rules that generate -omic entities? We avoid this problem within our framework by defining antinomes (not to be confused with an anti-noam, which is any entity not amenable to or of no interest to a generativist analysis, such as fine phonetic detail) as metaphorical philosophical containers that may or may not paradoxically contain themselves. By sub-classing antinomes as black boxomes, we avoid confronting the philosophical singularity by making it un-viewable.
Because of the unfortunate commonness of /oʊm/ and /oʊn/ endings in English, the many homophones and near-homophones that appear in the discussion can confuse matters. Rather than bemoan that state of affairs, we can reclassify uses and mentions of certain types of puns, eggcorns, mondegreens, and some phonological hypercorrections as homophomes. An excerpt of a poem by Thomas Hood (from “Faithless Sally Brown”) illustrates the uses of homophomes:
His death, which happen’d in his berth,
At forty-odd befell:
They went and told the sexton, and
The sexton toll’d the bell.
A different, apparently anonymous poem illustrates a different poetic -omic form, which should perhaps be called a lomerick:
There once was an X from place B,
Who satisfied predicate P,
The X did thing A,
In an adjective way,
Resulting in circumstance C.
Humorous lomericks may be thought of as a specialized subclass of jokomes, of which a more general example is given here:
Q: “How many members of a certain demographic group does it take to perform a specified task?”
A: “A finite number: one to perform the task and the remainder to act in a manner stereotypical of the group in question.”
Further contemplation of the various -omic levels which we have considered here leads naturally to the concept of the -ome-ome, which after several minutes of contemplation leads to the -ome-ome-ome, which leads inevitably to the -ome-ome-ome-ome, etc. At this point, zen linguists and transcendental linguists may need to consider the nature of the Om-ome, and its role in coming to terms with the oneness (and -omeness) of everything. Or not.
For the mathematically inclined, such contemplation must inevitably lead to -omen (obviously modeled after Weaselflinger’s concept of UXn), which is certainly an omen of some sort. This is indeed a complex concept (Cf., ℂ, the set of all complex numbers) which is probably infinitely infinite (Cf., ℭ, the cardinality of the continuum) and allows for multitudinous combinations (Cf., C() the combinatorial operator). By the powerful but subtle method of induction, this leads us to consider the applicability of this subclass of mathomes—namely C-omes.
Clearly, the entire concept of morphomes, and more generally -omes, is C-omic.