I was wondering what might happen if one of our English words suddenly were to break down – for instance, if we discovered that the word ‘dog’ had stopped working.
Let’s say that there is a dog who ranges freely about the alleyways of my hometown – he goes to and fro among them – and his name is Nabi (pronounced like ‘shabby’ with an ‘n’).
Now let’s say that my business partner Pete and I are sipping cocktails beneath our local volcano, admiring the obsidian; and, from the village road, Nabi approaches wagging his tail excitedly.
“Such a beautiful dog,” I say. “Look how Nabi’s coat altogether matches the color of this ocean of obsidian – even his eyes are like two polished orbs of the selfsame rock.”
On this day, however, the word ‘dog’ has become inoperative, so my friend is confused. “I share your awe for Nabi’s ability to remain camouflaged so perfectly against this landscape,” answers Pete; “but you should not call Nabi a dog; for Nabi’s a brushfire.”
It seems that labels work best when people agree on their usage. Although I dare not assert that the application of words is wholly arbitrary, I would not know how to argue whether it is better to call something invisible a ‘dog’ or a ‘brushfire’.
Also, I’ve seen people argue about whether or not a term is included in the dictionary. The idea seems to be that a word is not properly a word until it is stuffed and mounted by lexicographers.
First of all, even if no more than one single dictionary were allowed to exist in this world, the only way that the book itself could resolve lingual disputes is if it had the power to suck the life out of any entity who flouts its dictates. And the offender’s undying worm should henceforth be imprisoned in flames, for safekeeping.
The problem of money is similar to the problem of language. I say that God’s price is ten percent of your household’s annual income. Pete argues that God is worth an even 200 dollars. In order to find out which one of us aligns with objectivity’s answer sheet, we must adjust the cost of God to reflect inflation. At present, God is barely worth half a deutschmark, due to rampant unemployment. But give people money, and God comes back in style.
Moreover, if usage declares that the word ‘luck’ should replace the word ‘God’, then the dictionary must revise itself. (If it refuses to do so, it gets thrown in the poetry bin.)
Reasoning that the process is too expensive, we’ve currently been cutting back on our manufacture of Gods. But this is only causing a shortage of mischief. Therefore, instead of reducing the national tithe, I’d rather triple the amount of Gods that we pay to our publicans. This way, all of the unbelievers and poor doubters out there can enjoy their share of Fantasy – otherwise, as Nietzsche has warned us, they might overdose on truth.