I have a crazy look in my eye as I steadily hold a .357 Magnum Revolver. It’s cocked and fully loaded.
I am dressed like a villain from one of the Diehard movies.
Standing behind me are two other criminals. They also have loaded guns.
The room we are standing in is a small office. More specifically, it is the office of the CEO of Merriam-Webster, Inc., publisher of one of the world’s most popular English dictionaries.
I slowly lower my gun. The CEO of Merriam-Webster looks at me nervously from behind his desk.
“Please, I have a family,” he says.
“Good,” I say. “Then you’ll have a reason to meet my demands.”
“Demands?” he says, confused.
“That’s right,” I say. “There are some changes I’d like made in the dictionary. Some updates to the English language that I feel are… in order.”
“Are you insane?” he says. “We don’t control the English language, we just record it!”
“I know what you do,” I snap back at him. “But change has to start somewhere. This change starts with your company, your dictionary, and you.”
The CEO takes a second to compose himself. He looks at a picture of his wife and kids on the desk. He takes a deep breath and makes eye contact with me again.
“Well I suppose I don’t have a choice,” he says. “Go ahead, list your demands.”
A sinister smile crosses my face.
“Well, first and foremost, the word ‘aardvark.’ It doesn’t really need two fucking A’s, does it? It should be ardvark. One A. It’s perfectly fine with one A!”
I point the gun at him again.
“Do you agree?” I ask.
“Yes, you’re right,” he says. “You’re absolutely right. ”
I lower the gun and begin pacing around the room.
“Next, the word ‘opossum.’ Another monstrosity. We don’t pronounce it ‘oh-possum,’ do we?! It should just be possum! Same with pterodactyl. Why the fuck does it have a P at the beginning? It should be terodactyl, or better yet, teradaktil, you know, like how we actually pronounce it!”
“Sure,” the CEO says, pleading. “Sure, whatever you say.”
“And of course we cannot forget the infamous word ‘colonel.’ Do we say ‘co-lo-nel?’ no! We say kernal—it should be spelled KERNAL! Same with the filthy word ‘conscience.’ It’s not ‘con-science,’ we say ‘konshens.’ It should be phonetic! Phonetically spelled words make sense! They don’t taunt you with a logic-defying collection of letters! And this brings me to my major overhaul of the letter C.”
“What?” the CEO says. “I though you just wanted to change a few words.”
“Oh, I’m changing the world,” I say with wild eyes. “I’m fixing English once and for all. Now, many I continue?” I ask, gesturing the gun in his direction.
“Ok,” he says, defeated.
“The letter C shall only be used for the ‘cha’ sound, and since it represents the ‘cha’ sound, the H will no longer be included. Therefore, ‘change’ is just “cange.’ ‘Roach’ is just ‘roac.’ Words that don’t have the ‘cha’ sound will no longer have the letter C. Instead it will simply have a K or an S. It’s not ‘content,’ it’s ‘kontent.’ It’s not ‘certain,’ it’s ‘sertain.’ The letter C is a kompletely terrible letter. It should signify one sound, not three! S and K are perfektly good at their jobs!”
“This will never work,” he says. “People will be konfused.”
“Perhaps at first,” I say. “But in time, they will kome around to my way of thinking. Moving on, just as we have solved the ‘ch’ problem, next we will solve the ‘ph’ problem, along with the ‘psy’ problem. We will replase ‘ph’ in all instanses with an F. It shall be ‘fone,’ not ‘phone.’ ‘Farmasist,’ not ‘pharmasist!’ Likewise, we will use ‘si’ instead of ‘psy.’ A doktor of the mind is a ‘sikologist.’ A violent, empathy-laking patient of a sikologist is a ‘sikopath,’ understand?”
“You sound like a sikopath,” the CEO says.
“Yes, I might be under some sort of sikosis, but this afflikion will solve a problem that the world is begging to have solved. The people skream for answers, for komon sense! Akordingly, all words that begin with an ‘ex’ will begin with just an X. The E is redundant, and the X needs a greater purpose, don’t you see? It’s the laughing stok of the alfabet!”
“These demands keep getting more and more xtreme,” the CEO says. “This will cange everything! It will kause outrage, no one will aksept it! You’re canging too muc!”
I fire my gun into the air. Shoked by the sudden xplosion, the CEO almost falls out of his cair. I wait for the smoke to klear and the ringing in my ears to fade.
“You would be wise to klose your mouth,” I say. “Or the next bullet goes through you, instead of your seiling. In fakt, you should be taking notes. I xpekt my demands to be made in full. It’s that, or your life. The coise is yours. Now, where were we? Ah yes, the word ‘one.’ I don’t like it. I find it deseiving. It shall be spelled ‘wun,’ instead… fair enough?” I ask the CEO.
He nods silently.
“Next, we shall replase the ‘sh’ konstruktion, whic signifies the “shh” sound, with its own personal letter, muc like we have solved the ‘ch’ problem by redusing it to a simple C. Therefore, from now on, the ‘sh’ sound will be replased with the Russian letter Ж.”
The CEO looks at me in stunned disbelief.
“You Жould relax,” I say. “My demands are almost komplete. In fakt, there is only wun more cange you must make in your diktionary. It’s simple, but, perhaps, admittedly diffikult to get used to… We use the “th” sound so often, do we not? It serves as the beginning of so many prinsipal words. It doesn’t need two letters. Just like the ‘sh’ sound. The ‘th’ sound deserves its own letter! So, to that end, we Жall replase ‘th’ with the Greek symbol Ψ.”
I take a deep breaΨ and glanse bak at my two goons. Ψey nod with approval. I look bak at Ψe CEO.
“And Ψat’s it,” I say. “Ψat’s all we need to, to fix everyΨing. It will be so eloquent, so streamlined, don’t you see? At last, we will be able to glanse at a word and know xaktly how it’s pronounsed, fonetikally!”
“Ψese demands are not realistik,” Ψe CEO says. “How kan you xpekt us to publiЖ Ψis? It won’t even look like EngliЖ.”
“I don’t kare what it looks like,” I say. “Wun day, you will Ψank me. Wun day, the whole EarΨ will Ψank me.”