Good Enough for Folk Etymology—Part IX—A. Pocryphal & Verity du Bius SpecGram Vol CLXXXVI, No 4 Contents Cryptolinguistic Puzzle Dodecahedron—Mary Shapiro



After an impromptu search in the SpecGram library, we were surprised but elated to find a batch of additional Platonic dialogues on linguistic matters. Plato’s Socrates often passes the time on trivial matters of ethics, justice and all that jazz. Happily for us, the discoveries in the library are all linguistical. Here, then, in a world first publication, is Plato’s Doris.


Antiphon: ... to which my answer was of course ‘only if a hoplite were in charge’!

Socrates: Ha ha ha! Not unfunny.

Antiphon: Thanks, Sox.

Socrates: So, yeah. How was the rest of the evening?

Antiphon: Well, there was some lyre playing by a Thracian lyre-playing girl-band. They did some decent covers of some Pindar’s Odes. And we had a reading from ...

Socrates: Is that Doris over there?

Antiphon: Could be. But she’s wearing some headgear.

Socrates: It’s hot.

Antiphon: Yes, I suppose so.

Socrates: It looks like her.

Antiphon: Let us ascertain this by means of an empirical test: ‘Doorriiiiis’!

Socrates: She has indeed turned around, but perhaps only because you screamed loudly across the marketplace. That was not a test of potential Dorishood but of ability to hear and respond not inappropriately to unexpected stimuli. Others have turned too.

Antiphon: Indeed, but in turning, I was able to see her face and it is indeed Doris.

Socrates: Acknowledged; yet this was not your original claim.

Antiphon: She’s coming over. Perhaps we can pick up this later.

Socrates: Later I’m buying some flatpack tables for Demeter’s new garden installation.

Antiphon: Perhaps I can accom-

Socrates: Doris! Hello! You look well.

Doris: I feel older than I look.

Antiphon: What ails you?

Doris: Age.

Socrates: Perhaps you should have said ‘I look younger than I am.’

Doris: Perhaps I shouldn’t have wandered over. There are chores to do, my friends.

Socrates: There is always time for a natter in the marketplace. Is that not one of its purposes?

Doris: There may be some gender-motivated differences in how that observation is interpreted.

Antiphon: Fair comment.

Socrates: Thank you.

Antiphon: I meant Doris’s.

Socrates: Ah.

Doris: Can I go now?

Socrates: Doris, my good friend. You’re rushed. Stay awhile and talk philosophy with us. Permit its calming, reflective tenor to nuance out your character and ambience out your day.

Doris: Those, Socrates, are phrasal verbs I’ve never heard before.

Socrates: But they communicate, no?

Doris: Yes, I’d say so. So, anyway, now you’ve got me over here, what’s on the philosophical menu? I can’t stay longchores, as I say; I am not a woman of leisure, alasbut a few moments in your (plural!) ...

Antiphon: Thank you!

Doris: ... company is not unappealing.

Socrates: Well, Antiphon was just telling me about his experiences of a new cabaret performance touring the villages.

Antiphon: Yes, I’m doing a spot of stand-up.

Doris: Oh, yes. Nice. What’s the philosophy connection?

Socrates: Well, before that, we were talking about different kinds of nominals.

Doris: Still on that one, eh?

Socrates: There is much to be said. What little wisdom I have on this topic includes, may I say, the strong intuition that I have not yet asked all the questions there are to be posed about nominals.

Doris: There sure are a lot of them.

Socrates: Perhaps an infinitude. I don’t know about that. Certainly many, and more than I have asked.

Antiphon: Agreed. And the issues that nominals raiseor have an influence onare also many.

Socrates: Yes.

Doris: I don’t doubt it, boys. That’s true of most ideas. It’s simply a reflex of the interconnectedness (the necessary interconnectedness) of thought.

Socrates: I agree.

Doris: So, what’s the latest on nominals? Look, the sun’s pretty high in the sky; I’m gonna have to head off soon.

Antiphon: Well, we were coming at it all from the perspective of boundedness. Certain nominals seem to us more bounded than others.

Doris: What do you mean by bounded?

Socrates: Straight to the heart of the issue.

Doris: Yeah, thanks, Sox. Just coz I haven’t go the time to stand here all day pontificating doesn’t mean I haven’t got a brain in my skull.

Antiphon: ‘Pontificating’. That’s a little anachronistic no?

Doris: Boundaries, boundaries. Please get on with it.

Antiphon: Yes, yes, sorry. So, we were saying ...

Socrates: We? Or I?

Doris: Get on with it!

Antiphon: Sorry. Socrates, just let me speak.

Socrates: My apologies.

Antiphon: So, take ‘a cat’. It’s bounded. We’re talking of one and only one. But a ‘group of cats’, this is not bounded or at least as bounded. It’s known to be not one; it’s highly likely not two, possibly not three.

Doris: I get it.

Antiphon: Yes. So, a group is less bounded. Yet more unbounded is simply ‘cats’. However, ‘three cats’ is as bounded as ‘a cat’. So, boundedness isn’t coterminous with plurality.

Doris: Hmmmm. Interesting point.

Antiphon: There’s more. What about substances such as water, wheat, sea and sand? They are also unbounded.

Doris: Yes, but are somehow ‘one thing’much like ‘a cat’. Whereas, it seems to me, that ‘a group of cats’ and ‘cats’ are both necessarily composed of more than one identifiable subpart.

Socrates: I told you there were more questions to be asked!

Doris: Wow. You hadn’t seen that?

Socrates: No. But it’s a great point.

Doris: Well, thanks. Anyway, I gotta go. It’s a nice observation.

Antiphon: There’s more to say.

Doris: Ironically, we’ve already said that in this conversation.

Antiphon: But there is! We haven’t got to derived nominals yet. ‘Lyre-playing’s a nominalat least distributionallybut it’s unbounded in a different way.

Doris: Hey, Phonzy, I ... gotta ... go.

Antiphon: Well, come join us another time.

Doris: You know I will. It’s great to chat. And, good luck with the cabaret. Bye Sozzy.

Socrates: Speak soon, Doris.

Antiphon: Lots of love to Hermosphenes and the kids.

Doris: Finally, you mention them. I will! Bye.

Antiphon/Socrates: Bye.

[Exit Doris.]

Antiphon: She’s cool.

Socrates: The best. Let’s go visit her sometime.

Antiphon: For sure. Now, can I try about a few more routines on you or is it back to nominals?

Socrates: We’ve time for both, good Antiphon. Let’s wander ...

Good Enough for Folk EtymologyPart IXA. Pocryphal & Verity du Bius
Cryptolinguistic Puzzle Dodecahedron—Mary Shapiro
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVI, No 4 Contents