Saturday, March 30, 2013


Some words are so dangerous they have to be sent to word prison. Word prison is a kind of cultural Siberia. The idea is that if a dangerous word serves a long term in word prison no one will remember its significance by the time of its release and the word is rendered harmless by antiquity. Words get sent to word prison all the time. The type of words that get sent to word prison are not necessarily profane words. Profanity is more frowned upon than criminalised. Profane words are the lexicanonical equivalents of smokers or gypsies or something. The type of words that get sent to word prison are more than just naughty words, they are incendiary words, words that could start wars if spoken.

One of the nastiest inmates in word prison has been designated the new identity of The N Word. (That is what you do with dangerous words, you take the first letter from them and use that letter to refer to them.) Given that it was sent to word prison relatively recently, you might still remember The N Word. You might remember it but you dare not speak it lest you be the gateway by which societal tumult is released and/or are considered a bit of a dick. I'm going to risk typing The N Word here. I hope you understand that I am doing this for academic purposes and that you can forgive me. However, let this be the last time this word is typed or uttered. Right, here goes. Are you ready? If you don't want to see it you can look away now. OK. I'm going to type it. I'm typing The N Word next. The next word after the last word in this sentence will be The N Word. Nifflebibble. There I did it. Remember that one? Remember all the trouble it caused? See how feeble it is now compared to in the past when it had the power to incite events like the Viennese N Word riots of 1827? Despite all the time that has passed, I still feel unclean for just typing the word. That malignant combination of letters can still cause a lot of grief in certain regions. We can only take comfort in the knowledge that The N Word will remain incarcerated until such a time it can do little but wander the world entirely redundant, looking for a mouth to come out of and row to start, only to fail miserably - like an infamously violent hoodlum who leaves prison too withered and old to throw a punch.


Did you know that there is a nation that has banned the use of words entirely. The logic being that any word can potentially cause unrest so all words, including the name of the nation itself, have been sent to word prison. You are only permitted to speak two words in this nation, the word 'the' and the word 'word'. Saying letters is also permitted. This allows people to continue communicating without using words. However, just saying a simple greeting can be a very drawn out process in this nation. Instead of simply saying 'hello, how are you?' the citizens of this unnamed nation have to say: 'The h word, the other h word, the a word and the y word'. As you've probably deduced, this can get pretty confusing. So many words start with the same letter. People often misunderstand each other. It can lead to trouble at times with people wrongly taking offence. To be honest, sending the whole dictionary to word prison hasn't really helped this nation. All the breakdowns in communication have badly effected the economy. The people are unhappy because they can no longer make themselves understood. Ironically, the exchanging of insults is where most clarity remains. Someone pointing at you and shouting 'the f word and the o word' is obviously telling you to go away and in no uncertain terms.


Instead of being sent to word prison, sometimes words are just banished from certain places, like an individual might get barred from a nightclub or pub. Due to some traumatic past event or colossal faux pas, seemingly harmless words might hold a significantly dire association in particular workplaces or social groups. Groups of colleagues, friends, or acquaintances often banish words from their direct circle. Sometimes the forbidden word might be a name. You might meet a group of jovial bachelors who go a bit tense when you mention the name 'Edith'. From the sudden silence and the communal dropping of eyes, you will realise that an Edith was once known to these gents and that something bad came of this. One bachelor might even mutter something like 'bloody Ediths' and another will snarl at him 'leave it!'. Then, after a brief lull, you'll all go back to talking about the match. Certain words can also be barred from family homes, I know because there was a word banned from the house where I grew up. A simple enough word that, when uttered, sent out invisible shockwaves like the detonation of a psychological bomb. A word that meant nothing of any import to others but brought something appalling to the minds of my whole family. That word was 'rancheros' and to find out more just click the following escapee from my personal word prison: RANCHEROS!!!

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