Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Vocal Minority

Vocal Minority

Once, I had a language. For a while, it ran along like most do--with the occasional glottal stop here and hiccup there but smoothly just the same.

Then the consonants realized that the vowels were in the minority and possessed clear physical and functional traits that they could neither abandon nor disguise. The consonants began to act against them, banning them from high-class words, driving them from their traditional homes at the end of words, and eventually seeking to eliminate them altogether.

For a time, my language had a definite eastern European sound but the pogroms passed and the language carried on. The vowels demanded that the dictionaries enact laws to protect them (though it is never wise to trust one's fate too heavily to grammarians). Soon the vowels demanded special treatment and minimum vowel-to-consonant ratios. And they got them, even through the language now sounded more like the lowing of a cow than a means of communication.

The consonants protested, pointing out that the vowels, per capita, were receiving significantly more work, more pay, and more prestige. The protests were ignored and, instead, the vowels banned the use of contractions. The language groaned on. Next the vowels turned their attention to the structure of entire sentences rather than merely words. They decided that religious people were not being fair because they used too many 'O's (the religious bigots were fond of words like holy, God, and love) and not enough 'U's. In the name of the persecuted 'U's, they demanded the grammarians pass new laws, making the religious use the word F--- in place of other adjectives and adverbs and now one could not tell the pious from the unbelieving when the language was spoken.

After many years, the change in the language changed the minds of the people who used it. And so it came to pass that the Jews were made to run their own concentration camps (for it was only fair), the Moslems ran the pork industry (in the name of interstate commerce), and the Christians were required by law to have at least one extra-marital affair each year (so that no one had to feel bad about their own failed marriage--self-esteem being deemed the most important of virtues).

Okay, maybe I don't understand politics but it makes as much sense as Chomsky.