Last year we partnered with the people at Kids’ Television Sweatshop to create a program aimed at
brainwashing inculcating teaching young children about the English language and basic linguistics. Unfortunately, all of the networks rejected our program with an unprecedented, jointly signed letter demanding that we never make another TV program for kids. All copies of the videotape were burned, as was most of the script. We convened a meeting to look over the surviving script fragment to see what we might have done wrong.
17. EXT. CARAWAY CROSSING
Pan across “Caraway Crossing” street sign and man breakdancing. Large 3D letters spelling out “pronoun”, “verb”, etc. are in street. A large avian creature (FLAGRANT FOWL) is sitting on a stoop as a puppet (CHLOE) walks amid the words.
Watch your step!
CHLOE stumbles and falls into a giant hole.
Ow! Our stupid billionaire mayor wastes millions on a vanity political campaign but there’s no money to fix the freakin’ potholes. Fuhgeddaboutit!
Hey, what’s this?
Don’t touch tha…!
There’s a loud thud as the ground underneath “verb” collapses. A dirty CHLOE emerges with the word “DO” in big 3D letters.
Mess not around in the substrate. Know you not that the Celts supported our verbs with “do”? English works not like most of the other Indo-European languages, such as French…
WAVY FADE OUT AND BACK IN, IN BLACK AND WHITE
18. EXT. FRENCH VERSION OF CARAWAY CROSSING
Set and shots are identical to above but everything is over-the-top cliché French. Pan across sign saying “Carrefour du Carvi” and man doing mime. He and all other characters have a thin moustache, wear a beret, and smoke. Large 3D letters spell out “pronom”, “verbe”, etc. A large avian puppet (COUCOU ‘ILL’) is sitting on a stoop as a puppet (CHLOË) walks amid the words, falling into a giant pothole.
Voici ce que j’ai trouvé !
The ground under “verbe” sags a little but holds up. CHLOË emerges from hole with the phrase “EST-CE QUE” in big 3D letters.
Les Romains ont bien construit notre langue et nos villes, hein ?
(COUCOU ‘ILL’ takes a big drag from his cigarette and coughs)
(pronouncing all of the silent letters)
J’ai aussi découverT touTES noS lettreS silentES !
(CHLOË surfaces with a giant pile of 3D letters, mostly “s”, “t”, and “e”.)
WAVY FADE OUT AND BACK IN, IN COLOR
19. EXT. CARAWAY CROSSING
Back to the original Caraway Crossing scene.
There sure are a lot of silent letters in French.
Seriously, yo English ass gon’ rip on French for silent letters?
CHLOE and FLAGRANT FOWL walk past a recycling bin, out of which GRUMPY STEVEN pops his head up.
People who use the word “literally” to mean “figuratively” are awful!
In stride, FLAGRANT FOWL picks up the lid and slams it down on the bin.
20. VIDEOS WITH VOICEOVERS
A series of films play, with a bunch of kids announcing the action in unison. Video of a person walking.
(Video of person running)
(Video of person swimming)
BOY #1 (V.O.)
Swum! Swam. I knew that.
(Video of person diving)
(half) Dove! (half) Dived!
KIDS argue back and forth. Sound of a punch and “Ow!”
21. EXT. HOUSE
Mailbox with name “Meticus” is visible. CUT TO INT., where SAM is quietly putting a baby into a crib. SAM walks out to the foyer and chats quietly with EL MOE.
Señor Sam, why can’t we speak in front of el bebé?
I’m raising the baby in silence so I can learn what the first language was.
The front door gets kicked in with a loud thud. Three men tackle SAM to the ground.
MEN (IN UNISON)
Child Protective Services!
22. INT. KITCHEN
Mild applause finishes. MISTRESS HOGG stands on a stage with a kitchen setup, where CHEF is standing.
And now it’s time for our cooking segment.
(nonstop flurry of activity)
Bird breasts, liver, heart… Grease, two egg…
Many long leaf…
(picking up an immaculate platter of delectable food)
Come! Eat this! Good?
Mmm! Delicious! Thank you, Swadesh Chef!
23. PICTURES WITH MUSIC
Pictures of four people appear on the screen: Chomsky, Becanus, Rask, and Whorf. Music plays: (lyrics)
“Three of these dudes are different from the fourth dude,
Three form a clique and the fourth’s not their friend,
Can you figure out which is the lonely little fourth dude,
Before this song comes to an end?”
Picture of Rask is highlighted.
That’s right! Rasmus Rask is the only one whose theories haven’t been discredited… yet.
24. INT. LAB
KARMA THE TOAD opens a package and pulls out what looks like a tree root with the word “sker” written on it. NATE walks into the room.
Oh, hey Nate! Tell me, why do they call you “Cog” Nate?
My job consists of never-ending, soul-crushing drudgery for a faceless, profit-focused employer that pays me below-subsistence wages.
I thought you were an adjunct professor at Arizona Canyon University.
That’s what I said. Anyway, what’s going on, Karma?
I just got this root from the Indo-European Supply Company.
What a coincidence! I’m an expert in Proto-Indo-European!
Um, where exactly did you gain that expertise?
Indo-Europe. Let’s plant that root and see what happens.
KARMA plants the root in soil and waters it. In a series of five bad stop-motion shots, the root grows into a small tree with leaves. On each leaf is written a word. KARMA shows off a few of them, in turn.
That means “to cut”.
This one’s a doublet: “shirt” and “skirt”.
A shirt is made from a cut piece of fabric. Skirt is the Norse equivalent.
Norse women wore skirts as shirts? Stupid Vikings. “Science.”
That’s the process of cutting off what is true from what is false.
Are these real, or are you making them up?
The beauty of etymology is that you can’t tell the difference! What’s next?
When you pinch off a turd, you’re cutting off a piece of shit from your body.
So, all of these come from a root meaning “to cut”?
You’ve got it!
Yes! We scienced the shit out of that!
(long pause, then weakly)
Sometimes I cut mys…
ABRUPT CUT TO
25. VIDEOS WITH VOICEOVERS, PART 2
Video of a person sitting.
(Video of a person eating)
(All of the kids pronounce it /eɪt/ except for BOY #2, who pronounces it /ɛt/.)
BOY #3 (V.O.)
Go back to England, you pommy bastard!
BOY #2 (V.O.)
(After sound of a punch)
26. INT. CLASSROOM
A regally dressed vampiric figure (PRINCE VON PRINT) stands in front of a chalkboard, lecturing to ROVER.
PRINCE VON PRINT
Alpha, uh, uh, uh!
Beta, uh, uh, uh!
Gamma, uh, uh, uh!
Delta, uh, uh, uh!
No, the NATO phonetic alphabet goes “Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta”.
PRINCE VON PRINT
I was going over the alphabet that they use in Greece.
But Greece is part of NATO!
SAD TROMBONE, THEN FADE TO
27. VIDEOS WITH VOICEOVERS, PART 3
Video of a person sneaking around.
Fuck, not this shit again.
QUICK CUT TO
28. INT. POST OFFICE
ARNIE is sitting at a desk with envelopes strewn all about. Atop the envelopes sit large 3D glyphs: þ, æ, ȝ, ƿ, etc. BORT walks in carrying an envelope.
I’d like to buy a stamp.
Sorry, this is the dead letter office.
RIM SHOT AND CUT TO
As the credits roll by, a large red “G” and a large blue “T” stay on the screen.
This episode is brought to you by the letters “G” and “T”.
(sounds of ice clinking in glass, guzzling, glass being put on table)
Bartender! Another double!
You’re drunk. I’m cutting you off.
This just in: This episode also brought to you by the letters “F” and “U”!
Now that we’ve given the script a re-read, we see why we were rejected: Whorfianism is making a comeback!