Correspondent I V K1
Regular readers of SpecGram will be almost entirely unsurprised, if just a touch disappointed, to learn that once again Spanish has won the European Unigraphemic/Single-letter Lexeme International Sport-Symposium (EUSLISS). At the glamorous, star-studded2 event in Strasbourg last week, Spanish once again entered its six monovocalic lexemes, ⟨a⟩, ⟨e⟩, ⟨i⟩, ⟨o⟩, ⟨u⟩, and ⟨y⟩ and as with previous years, the judges considered this to be the best overall unigraphemic/single-letter lexeme entry. The predictable result is that the Spanish language once again gets the coveted EUSLISS prize of a box of peppermint creams and a broken packet of Bourbons.3
Under the steady-handed4 guidance of Sven Chockleberry IV, the Victory 4 English Selection Team (VEST) entered its familiar unigraphemic/single-letter lexeme roster of ⟨a⟩, ⟨i⟩ and ⟨O!⟩ as core entries. However, this time, VEST also went for a risky clitic second roster consisting of -’d, -’s (reduced form of has), -’s (reduced form of is), -’s (possessive ‘s’) as well as familiar -s (3SG). While the EUSLISS rules remain ambivalent on whether non-free morphemes can be entered, the judges this year were adamant that none of the above could be taken into consideration.
We nevertheless recognise the strategic value of this brave, bold move and thank VEST and Sven for it. It was moreover complemented by an all-new third set of unigraphemic/single-letter lexemes from abbreviated textspeak. They included ⟨u⟩ (you), ⟨v⟩ (have), ⟨r⟩ (are), ⟨p⟩ (please), ⟨d⟩ (do) and others. While certain of these were accepted, the judges awarded only 0.276 points for each one. This unfortunately led to English coming in just behind Spanish which gained the maximum possible 129,982.861 points for its sextet of single-vowel lexemes.
VEST is now preparing the strategy for 2021. In a top-secret preview, SpecGram, official sponsors of VEST, can secretly reveal (so please don’t tell anyone!) the three-pronged strategy for EUSLISS success in 2021. Firstly, the selection team will argue for the inclusion of single letter dialect forms. This allows ⟨’e⟩ as a dialect standard abbreviation for ‘he’ as in ‘ ’E’s up to no good, your father. Perhaps ‘e’s off to murder someone in the post office again.’ Secondly, the team aims to create new single-letter abbreviations for English. A key proposal here is ⟨x⟩ for ‘ex-’ as in ‘my ex-wife won’t give up on the alimony claims’. Others are being monographemically tested with specially designed equipment from South Korea. The Big Unigraph Testing Technology (BUTT) is currently working on ⟨t⟩ for ‘the’. Sven’s hope is that when ⟨t⟩ emerges from BUTT, it will be EUSLISS-compliant.
The final prong in the trident of EUSLISS success is a defensive one: to undermine the validity of the Spanish sextet entry. Given that two of the six monovowels are allographs of one other (⟨e⟩ for ⟨y⟩ and ⟨u⟩ for ⟨o⟩), the English selection team will argue in its presentation for 2021 that ⟨e⟩ and ⟨u⟩ are non-valid unigraphemes but indeed merely allographs. Given the name of the competition, it seems highly likely that this will succeed.5
Overall, then, the picture looks positive for English at EUSLISS 2021. It goes without saying, of course, that all of this is highly confidential, so please don’t pass it on. F U do, we’ll F 2 find U N tell U F very strongly NDd.
1 Formerly known as Ivy Kay.
2 In the sense that stars were visible, reflected in the puddles on the ground.
3 We keep telling the EUSLISS committee that it should be a packet of broken Bourbons but they won’t change a thing.
4 Sven has only one hand, unfortunately, a tragic outcome of writing far too many notes in lectures as an undergraduate. His one hand is pretty steady, other than the alcoholism-induced shakes. And the arthritis.
5 There is a fourth strategy: bribery. Donations are currently being taken to facilitate the purchase of a suite of sports cars/San Marino apartment/complete works of Chomsky which should ‘enable’ the judges to see things from the English perspective. Send your cash to Sven who will keep it at hand (hopefully; see footnote 4).