Linguistic Shortcomings

Currently I’ve got a project simmering in the background. It is very hush hush, but in working on it, I’ve come to realize yet another shortcoming in the English language, this time specifically in the alphabet. Sure, it does a great job on the basic stuff, spelling words and whatnot, and when we really need to we twist it and mash it into an approximation of the sounds we need. The problem is, flexible though these 26 letters may be, there are certain noises we humans make, and certain ideas we wish to represent, that I’ve yet to find a satisfactory spelling for, and I blame the letters.

The key sticking point for me right now is the fart sound. You know what I mean. The Bronx Cheer? The Raspberry? The Bilabial Fricative? How do you spell that sound? The best I’ve seen thus far was “pbpbpbpbpbpt.” I got that from a Calvin and Hobbes comic. It is okay, I guess, but really it sounds more like that noise Roger Rabbit makes right before managing to say the word please. Clearly this is a sound that needs a letter of its own. I envision it as a letter B facing downward. Go ahead. Picture it. That there is a letter that lets you know how it sounds right off the bat.

Farts, though important, are not the only noises left without alphabetical representation. The next one actually is difficult to explain. Let me set the scene. You are talking to a hipster, valiantly resisting the urge to strangle them as you do so. Eventually the conversation turns to music, and you mention a band you like. They make a sound, similar to the sound of someone clearing their throat, followed by the word “Puh-lease” and a ten minute long dissertation about whatever the big band of this nanosecond is and why your musical opinions and taste, and by extension your worth as a human being, are less than nothing. I have no idea how to spell that word. Scottish people make it a lot too. It seems to comprise about 40% of the television Scott’s language, in fact. Ock? Ochchchck? Clearly it starts with a Ah and ends with a K, but there’s a whole lot of gravely phlegm in the middle with no clear spelling. Chutzpah has that sound at the beginning, but you wouldn’t know unless you’ve heard the word. This is fortunate. It means that the Hebrew alphabet probably has a hock-a-loogie letter we can borrow. If not them, then certainly there’s a middle eastern language or something that has one, because you can’t get through a conversation with a person of Arabian decent without that sound coming up a few dozen times. So all we need to do is find the letter, add it to our alphabet, and presto, transcriptions of radio conversations will no longer have to put the word “(static)” because they will have a letter for that sound.

This next one technically has an official spelling, what with it showing up in a commercial for laundry detergent and all, but I don’t support it. Tsk.. You know, the shame on you noise. The noise you make before adding something like “that poor guy” when your buddy tells you about the guy at work who fell into the wheat thresher? Right. I say we need a letter to permit the spelling of this. Tsk gets pronounced “Tisk” and that is not the sound I was making. Besides, that sound is very similar to the smoochie smoochie sound that, for some reason, you use to call a dog. The question of why you make kissy noise to attract the attention of a canine aside, whatever letter we end up using to fill out the Tsk noise could get teamed up with a P rather than a T and be this noise too. That’s called economy.

Finally, on a slightly different note, I think we need lower case numbers. It is clear just by looking at them that the numbers we use now are upper case. 1, 4, 9, 5, 8? Come on people, it is like you are shouting them. Upper case numbers are fine for when you are doing math or giving phone numbers, but we really should have something less formal for less formal occasions. If you are just using a number in idle chitchat, you should have the option of using a version that blends a little better with text. Writing out the number in long hand can be such a hassle. All we need is a softer number. One that dips below the line, like a “g” or a “j.” It baffles me that such a thing does not already exist.

A mind is only as good as the language in which it thinks. If you can’t get your point across in a succinct and erudite manner, then the thought dies with you. Some of you may say that no idea worth discussing needs the scoff noise or the poot noise, but think of it this way. Not having the means to express ourselves is a form of censorship. My freedom of speech is being curtailed by the language itself. I have a constitutional right to make the floofie sound if I please, yet I am denied the ability, and thus the right, to write it! What next? Will I not be allowed to think about farts? And then not be allowed to fart at all? And then be forced to eat babies? That, sir, is downright unamerican, and I am enough of a Patriot to take a stand… figuratively speaking of course. Obviously I haven’t got a clue who I would take this fight to, even if I wasn’t too lazy to actually take it. But it was fun to complain about, and really, isn’t complaining about things rather than doing something about them what being an American is all about?

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About Decoychunk

Editor, Writer, and general Knower-Of-Words, if there is text to be read on BrainLazy, Joseph Lallo probably has his fingerprints on it. As the final third of the ownership and foundation of BrainLazy, Joseph “Jo” Lallo made a name for himself when he lost the “e” from his nickname in an arm wrestling match with a witch doctor. Residing in the arid lowlands of the American Southwest, Joseph Lallo is a small, herbivorous, rabbit-like creature with the horns of an antelope. He sleeps belly up, and his milk can be used for medicinal purposes. Joseph Lallo is also author of several books, including The Book of Deacon Series, book 1 of which is available for free here.