“Are there any guys who aren’t DUMB?? Please spell correctly and use polysyllabic words.” –(Name redacted by Slam Horse to protect the author’s identity)
The young woman who authored the above statement made a romantic overture to me. I declined her romantic offer upon becoming aware of her man-shaming statement, and instead sent her the following email, as I felt the need to stand up for men everywhere:
“Hi. I read your post that implied men are dumb, and further stated men should use ‘polysyllabic words.’ Though I was born with a 180 I.Q., was reading and writing at the graduate school level by the third grade, tested as both a musical genius and a creative genius, scored in the 99th percentile on the Miller’s Analogy Test, and achieved a 3.9/4.0 GPA in graduate school, I unfortunately don’t know what the term ‘polysyllabic’ means. I’m familiar with the denotation (dictionary definition) of the word ‘polysyllabic,’ of course, but I perceive you to take language QUITE seriously, so I figured my response ought to afford this situation something more than a cursory glance.
Let’s start by defining our term: ‘Polysyllabic’ 1: having more than one and usually more than three syllables 2: characterized by words of many syllables (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). So, you would like for men to use words with multiple syllables, because otherwise men are dumb. Got it.
My lack of any definitive understanding of the true implications regarding the implementation of ‘polysyllabic’ words is likely due to the fact that my initial introduction into language was confined to a nomenclative paradigm inhering within the lexicon comprised of the morphophonological and syntactic structures informed by the historio-linguistic etymologies descended from Proto-Indo-European. Decontextualized as they are from the global language construct, the morphemes inherent within this system function only descriptively, whereas their ideographic counterparts function simultaneously prescriptively; ergo, in the case of the latter, the interlocutor may at once describe the signifier and prescribe the signified, so that one may utilize the performative and perlocutionary power of language to full advantage, allowing the power of the mind to manifest and co-create reality, since, if we’re being honest, language ultimately constructs the world much more than it reflects it. By the way, if the gentle reader is thinking, ‘I sure do bet that utilizing language in this fashion directly informs the tenets and applied methodologies of psychoneuroimmunology,’ the reader would be correct. Oh, snap!
I shall continue. During my upbringing I was restricted to the use of a limited lexicon due to my indoctrination into a cognicentric and ethnocentric paradigm, a situation that was further exacerbated by the neurolinguistic programming I inadvertently received, as well as by the inherent pedagogical deficiencies of the didactic curricula to which I was exposed. Seen through a deconstructionist lens, the morphemes inherent within said lexicon, and those inhering within any semiotic canon extant for that matter, are arguably meaningless in their import. Therefore, any combination of them (postmodernistic or otherwise) into larger units will be proportionately unsuccessful at the task of generating meaning. Hence, any efforts to turn monosyllabic words into their polysyllabic ‘betters’ may, in fact, prove pointless. Poop! (Insert dadaist joke here).
Despite my application of the syllogistic methods of deductive logic, as well as the Hegelian Dialectical Discourse Model (whereby thesis + antithesis = synthesis), as well as various linguistic models, philosophical modalities, etc., etc., object and representamen are still no further rectified or clarified, nor can any interpretant be made absolutely clear, at least to the true satisfaction of any serious linguist, philosopher, or even to a common, work-a-day layperson such as yourself. I know you have a masters degree and everything, but you know what I mean. It must be noted that while I may be the one enlightening the world with important semantic content, this gesture would arguably be meaningless without your complementary presence as the delightfully droll jester, dancing around with tinkling bells on your ridiculous hat, amusing us so much with your wonderfully silly antics. I am so grateful for your comic relief!
Mirthfulness and merriment aside, I will now, in good faith, attempt an explication of the thesis–that it is more appropriate to use words with multiple syllables than to use words with single syllables. While the veracity of this conceptualization remains to be proven or disproven, don’t worry, baby: we’ll get there. Like a proverbial yin and yang, chasing each other around and around, as if rooted to their relative positions on a perpetual motion merry-go-round, those would-be bedfellows–signifier and signified–fail to reproduce that idealistic sire they most certainly would have called by the first name, ‘True,’ and the middle name, ‘Meaning.’ Additionally, the more effort applied in such an endeavor, only the more frustrating the lack of desired result, as seen in the ‘Fu’ cycle. The Chinese character, ‘fu,’ though having many potential meanings depending upon inflection, means, at least in this context, ‘return,’ (though the gentle reader may reasonably question the validity of meaning-in-translation/transcription/transliteration, as words lose meaning when divorced from their origin, as when text and con-text fail to inform one another). It also depends, of course, upon whether one is translating the Chinese into English via the Pinyin, Wage-Giles, or Yale systems. ‘Ni dong ma? (Do you understand?)’ But, of course, you knew that. ‘Duibuqi (Pardon me).’
Nonetheless, in the yin-yang cycle, ‘fu’ (return) occurs when the greatest point of yin changes to yang, and similarly, again when the greatest point of yang changes to yin. Each, going to its own extreme, becomes its opposite. As such, they may be considered to give birth to one another. The nature of the universe is, after all, change. Greater yang becomes its opposite–yin, and vice versa. So, too, mountains of language become their opposite–meaninglessness. Shucks.
In the infinite joke that is our (perceived) reality, yin and yang–the two members of this dyadic dance–can only give birth to their complement, and not their offspring. Hence, there can be lots of fornicating, but no new life. Incessant talking, but no new meaning. Our words may be like so many seemingly tautological yins and yangs. Just as memes (often regarded as cultural analogues to genes, which self-replicate, mutate, and respond to selective pressures), seek to reproduce themselves via a human host, so language in general reinforces itself merely for the sake of self-preservation. It becomes a negative feedback loop in a cybernetic system, that seeks to maintain a certain status quo, an equilibrium (as opposed to a ‘balance’)–a ‘room temperature,’ if you will–before inevitably devolving into a downward spiral of potential meaninglessness: a barking dog chasing its own tail. Then the barometer falls, the temperature drops, and, dear reader, your house, Hell, freezes over.
The dual constructs of holism and unity (so valued in much Asian thinking) have largely resisted any Machiavellian attempts of Cartesian theorists to undermine them via misguided reductionism, French philosopher and mathematician, René Descartes’, rather short-sighted and diabolical historical deal with the Pope to manufacture mind-body dualism notwithstanding. He did, of course, give us the concept, rendered here in flawless Latin, ‘Cogito ergo sum.’ Or, if one prefers Descartes’ original language of French, ‘Je pense, donc je suis.’ Or, if one insists upon maintaining a predisposition to an ethnocentric bias in language usage, it is the rationalistic premise, ‘I think, therefore I am.’ But, I digress.
Placed in the context of holism and unity, one may observe the (in this context) tertiary duo, yin and yang, in their relationship to one another as being infinitely divisible, never separable regardless of the smallness of the level to which one would break them down. Much in the same way that reductionism never yields a final singular truth, so, too, is it the case that multiplication may resist yielding its own meaning. There is no reason to believe any further effort applied at conjoining elements of language will cede different future results. Fuck.
Einstein’s operational definition of ‘stupidity’ was ‘doing the same thing over again and expecting different results.’ For example, some women may perpetually date men who apparently lack the ability to utilize polysyllabic words. This is a salient example that would appear to meet Einstein’s definition of stupidity. Would the following observation also exemplify this maxim? Yin and yang seem to chase one another endlessly. One wonders, since there is a real risk of there being a complete lack of meaning (as we may perceive and define this concept of meaning from our limited vantage point), then why the sustained effort at creating meaning? Cosmic joke? Zeitgeist? Habituation? We utter words that create verbal copulation with other words, even though they may produce no meaning. Similarly, I keep having sex even though I haven’t sought to produce offspring. I guess it’s just what we do. And WHO we do. And do. And do.
That same esteemed thinker, Albert Einstein (author of Die Relativitätstheorie [the Theory of Relativity], which I translated from the original German and subsequently enjoyed deconstructing), said that problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking in which they were created. Therefore, trying to deconstruct language from within the confines of language itself, is an iota specious. And, for that matter, fallacious. (I am here being playfully redundant to [hopefully] humorously mirror the process by which we often say more words, but fail to generate any additional meaning). For example, if one were to take everything that you, dear reader, have ever written and said, and did-it-all-up ‘hoch-zwei’-style (taking it to the second power), it would likely still prove relatively meaningless. ‘Und ein bißchen komisch (and a little bit strange).’ Of this I am certain. ‘Bestimmt.’ In the commodious ‘räumliche Unendlichkeit’ (spatial infinity) that is our universe, there is really just greater and greater opportunity to know less and less. ‘Ach mensch.’
Alas, this deluge, this profuse utterance of words, may prove purposeless, unless here I have it correct: that you want men to use polysyllabic words because such large verbal ejaculations sexually excite you. Hmm. As in the classic movie, ‘Threesome,’ featuring Stephen Baldwin, in which the character played by Lara Flynn Boyle has a tendency to become aroused when big words are spoken. The character played by Josh Charles uses big words in one scene to arouse Lara Flynn Boyle’s character. The naughty words used include some of my personal favorites, such as ‘concupiscent’ and ‘lascivious.’ In a tawdry scene that takes place in the campus library, he reads from a book, causing Lara’s character to cum right there on the table just from hearing the words. Does this sound like you? Hmm. So, I mean, there’s always THAT. This may require a certain suspension of disbelief, but, be honest…you’re masturbating right now, aren’t you? It’s merely a question; I don’t mean to be licentious. Frankly, I don’t know why you’re turned on by this. I guess we could try to determine this electroencephalographically, but that seems like a lot of work. And you’re already working it too hard. But, rest assured, it’s not as if you’re alone in this. There is no solipsism, no sense of terminal uniqueness here. Let’s face it: all women are turned on by my language. It’s because my words are BIG.
For your edification, the word ‘linguistic’ is related to ‘lingua.’ Did you know that ‘lingua’ means ‘tongue?’ Just wanted to stick that out there.
To continue analyzing this phenomenon, the very conceptualization of morphemic combination possessing meaning may be found to lack sufficient validity. Predicated partially upon the inherent divorce between philosophy and rhetoric, a deconstructionist paradigm precludes the very possibility of creating meaning through further combinatory methodologies. Even exponential increases in the mountain of language that is discourse may obscure meaning, as equally may be the case that words may simply be found to refer to other words. Therefore, despite such a potential increase in language, no more meaning is conveyed, as in the mathematical formula: 0(X) = 0. Even an infinitely large number of null sets still have no elements. And, undoubtedly, the theory of lex parsimoniae (a principal of parsimony, as it were), or if you must limit our discussion to English, Occam’s Razor, would have something to say about this profligate expenditure of precious linguistic resources. I recognize, of course, that some more advanced thinkers may prefer Solomonoff’s Theory of Inductive Inference, as it is a mathematically formalized version of Occam’s Razor, but I’m trying to keep this simple. For the record, I prefer the alternative spelling, ‘Ockham,’ for ‘Ockham’s Razor,’ as it is more historically accurate, since William of Ockham, the medieval philosopher, logician, and nominalist, after whom the methodological principle being here discussed is named, probably would have wanted it that way, since that’s how he would have spelled it, since he is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. England, of course. And, I only used the variant (vagrant?) spelling, ‘Occam,’ because it is so commonly used. I’m all about being popular. To sum up: one may prattle on ad nauseam, ad infinitum, ad bullshitium, but no amount of polysyllabic words is going to rescue us from this predicament. Darn-it!
Even if one sets aside this slew of potential issues, if there were any true ‘meaning’ in language in the first place, where should one consider it to be located? If one proposes meaning to be located with the intent of the author, one has succumbed to the ‘intentional fallacy.’ Conversely, if one settles on locating meaning exclusively in the interpretation of the reader (that would be YOU, dear one, the delightful author of the infinitely engaging and equally enlightening ‘Dumb Male’ text), one has stumbled unwittingly into the ‘affective fallacy.’ Dear me! Dare we instead locate meaning at that very divine intersection that exists in the sweet verbal copulation between the writer and the reader? Or are these players just another yin and yang pair chasing each other into infinity—into meaninglessness? Hmm.
Interjectionally, via an admittedly non sequitur leap, since language is a fundamental cornerstone of civilization, I do recognize its ultimate necessity, as I recognize the need for structure in general. Hence, I would not be best characterized as a nihilist, nor really even an existentialist. I would likely fall within the ranks of those adhering to the principles of antidisestablishmentarianism, since I do not share the Angst-y ethos, angry pathos, and misdirected railing against the system of much contemporary music and art. Such anger towards one’s early caregivers is better dealt with in a therapist’s office as opposed to being directed at emotionally-safer though inappropriate current authority figures. Also, I find it more efficient to seek change within an existing system rather than to go to the trouble of constructing a new one. But, as I am also a progressive thinker, I’ve (dys)functionally developed a matrixed personality, with polarized interests, in both strong government and the need to constantly question and modify it. I am, however, decidedly not an anarchist, and dwell little on entropic thoughts, the omnipresent implications of the second law of thermodynamics notwithstanding. If the gentle reader is feeling herself overwhelmed in attempting to decipher this seemingly cryptic diatribe, this author feels for you. He really does. Here comes a joke: In an isolated system, in which no energy can be input, EMPATHY will always increase. That’s original. I just invented psychophysics humor. You saw it here first. See how I swapped ’empathy’ in place of ‘entropy.’ I will here leave behind the non sequitur and return to the previous train of thought, or is to do so at this point simply to create another non sequitur? I will leave this for the astute reader to decide. Surely she is not nonplussed.
After all, in consideration of critical theory, there is that very ‘telephone game’ of complexity which starts with the actual author, and progresses through the implied author, and the inferred author; before moving on to the actual text, the implied text, and the inferred text; and then concluding with the inferred reader, the implied reader, and, for God sakes, the actual reader, who may really exist on the other end of that continuum–certain existential, ontological, epistemological, and teleological considerations aside. This is not even entering into the equation the possible existence of a narrator or speaker separate from the author. Geez.
Nor are we here entering into the discussion considerations of the patriarchal shortcomings of our historical use of language, as informed by, say, a Marxist-lesbian-feminist perspective. Potential epistemological limitations set aside for a moment, all that can really be said is that I’ve given you a mouthful.
To bring this slightly more macrocosmic consideration back to its microcosmic origin, is there even any meaning in a single word (polysyllabic or otherwise)? Nay…in a single morpheme? And if one deconstructed a morpheme (the smallest meaningful unit of language) down further into quarks, into quantum foam even…is there any meaning THERE? Golly.
And what if we actually find the Higgs Boson—the so-called God particle? What then? Let me save you the suspense: nothing will change. Not really. We’ll still be swimming around in this quantum soup, with no real meaning, only swimming. I hope the gentle reader will agree with this author that the juxtaposition of quantum mechanics with linguistics is apropos. Here is the truth of life in a succinct nutshell of simplistic analogy, the brevity of which is matched only by its logical internal consistency: We are merely barking dogs, chasing our tails, while we swim around in a bowl of soup, fucking without meaning. Woof.
I must admit, I am now no closer to determining the usefulness of polysyllabic words than when I began thinking about them. In the absence of such a determination, and in consideration of the paltry definition of terms (denotative, connotative, or otherwise), as well as the insufficient problematization of the heuristic, I sense I should refrain from using such polysyllabic words altogether. Hence, I am afraid I cannot acquiesce to your request to utilize polysyllabic words, because to refrain from doing so would be the ethically- and philosophically- correct choice. Perhaps the request is even unfair, considering the dilemma initiated by it and placed upon the hapless interlocutor. Or is it indeed a false dilemma, one that may be rectified via further extrapolation and conscientiatization by the denizens, as informed by the constructs of Paulo Freire’s liberation pedagogy? Either way, a conundrum.
I do empathize with your frustration at wanting men to use polysyllabic words (though less so with your approbation), but, alas, this does not appear meant to be. Although you have authored a brilliant discourse extolling the relative dumbness of men, I am afraid I cannot go on a date with you. I am, quite frankly, intimidated, and, therefore, ambivalent. I just can’t seem to come to a definitive conclusion as to whether or not I should use polysyllabic words on said date, and I know you have stipulated your strong preference for the use of such words. Nonetheless, thank you for letting me bark at you from the quantum soup. Best wishes. Enjoy chasing your tail, and fucking without meaning.
For the record, the seeming existentialist slant to my words here is only meant to facilitate the rendering of the tone of this piece. The esteemed reader should resist the temptation to interpret it too literally or to view it as an indication of my stance on issues ontological.
This writer’s garrulous and loquacious circumlocutions are periphrastically grandiloquent prolixities. Is it pandering pacification to keep the plebeian proletariats pontificating in perplexity the periodicity of this punitive plethora of paratactically prattling pluralistically poignant piquantness of pedantic phenomenological platitudes? Perhaps.
My conscious intent was, of course, to render a piece displaying a facetious tone. I cannot guarantee, however, that a certain amount of sarcastic tonality has not worked its way up from my unconscious mind. I have made an attempt, to the extent that I was able to garner a certain measure of self-awareness, to minimize the inclusion of sarcastic tone, in favor of the aforementioned facetious tone. As it is beyond the scope of this work to enter into a full metadiscourse analysis, I will cease rendering such analysis of the discourse heretofore elaborated.
I am unfortunately aware that my words may ultimately fail to convince you of my thesis, much in the way St. Anselm in the 11th century failed to demonstrate sufficient validity with his syllogism, the ‘Ontological Argument.’ It may be EQUALLY difficult for people to DISPROVE my idea, much in the way Mackie’s ‘Evil Argument’ failed to definitively disprove the ‘Ontological Argument.’ Rest assured, however, that if anyone does succeed in the task of disproving my idea–some brilliant logician, perhaps, with nothing better to do–then I will stand corrected, and I will go on a date with you immediately. And I will use polysyllabic words, whether they ultimately generate meaning or not. Perhaps I will even serenade you with an a cappella rendition of the gibberish poem, ‘Jabberwocky.’ I have, of course, in this text sought to minimize the use of neologistic lexemes, those so-called nonce words. I found the literature extant quite adequate to convey the vast majority of my non-meaning.
I trust the gentle reader hasn’t found this ad hoc reductio ad absurdum polemic to be too labored. It’s always nice to boil something down to its essence, but, alas, it takes more time to make something succinct. As was once said, ‘If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.’ I’m sorry I’ve used so many large words. I will stop now. If this text has proven too hard to read, you might simply throw it out the window…an act of defenestration via personification. I really have nothing else to say. If I did, I would state it parenthetically, but to do so now would seem rather pointless, as it would look like this: ( ).”
I jest, of course. No judgment here. I love and forgive all people. We are all just trying our best to get along and get our needs met. I wish her only the best. And as you can see, I did give her a mouthful lol
But, seriously. Don’t fuck with the Slam Horse, beotch
Editorial commentary: It’s unfortunate the young woman has run across so many men who fail to use language in the way she would find most pleasing. But one must ask: has she made herself a part of the problem? One could argue, ‘yes.’ Her use of judgment and shame in her language may push away men who meet her criteria. Thus, by focusing on what she doesn’t want, she creates more of the same. Alternatively, if she were to focus on what she DOES want, she might increase the likelihood of connecting with such. The metaphysical law known as the ‘law of attraction’ stipulates that we draw from the universe that which we send out into the universe. What we focus on increases. When we focus on the problem, we increase the problem set. When we focus on the solution, we increase the solution set. Hence, it makes more sense to use language that reflects that which we DO want.
Many of us have a ‘trickster’ component to our personalities. That is, we actively sabotage ourselves. Everyone has likely done this at one time or another. Let’s all release that tendency and embrace getting our needs met.
May everyone find what they desire, including fulfillment, happiness, excitement, love, & peace. And so it is!