Saturday, July 28, 2007

avoid the ten dollar words

What if some private interest bought the English language and sent monthly bills to all consumers for every word they'd used in conversation, writing, or even talking in their sleep? As a rule, longer words would be more expensive than shorter ones as they require more resources to produce (ink, paper, bytes, etc.) and usually possess a greater sense of prestige. The same elevated pricing would apply to Latinate words and terms borrowed from foreign languages such as Weltenschauung or fait accompli. On the other hand, brand names for common objects could be discounted or even free to use, according to contracts between the owners of English and its various sponsors. Some shorter words would be more expensive; for example "I" would be more expensive than "me" because subjective pronouns convey agency. People who could not afford to use "I" would speak a parody of Tarzan's English (e.g. "Me hungry.") that would be emblematic their powerlessness.

(picture link)