Go Softly Over the Bridge


A word devoid of thought is a dead thing, and a thought unembodied in words remains a shadow. Lev Semenovich Vygotsky (1896-1934)

While linguists argue, poets weep among the shadows.

Submissions to a beautiful word contest conducted by the British Council in 2004 seem skewed away from sound toward meaning. Tolkien’s favorite, cellar door, was replaced by mother.

While linguists argue, poets weep among the dead

Noam Chomsky, seeking a sentence that had never before been uttered, said, colorless green ideas sleep furiously. This string of words has been discussed by linguists and spawned a literary competition which challenged writers to make the sentence meaningful.

A Mathematical Theory of Communication

Mathematicians, especially Bell Lab’s Claude Shannon, have influenced linguists. The introduction to the above titled book states that in this theory, information “must not be confused with meaning.”

Sõida tasa üle silla

Estonia once came in second, behind Italian, in a most beautiful language contest with those words which mean, Go softly over the bridge. The country is celebrating its 90 years of independence with a similar contest. Rejoice in the beauty of your babble.

We can no longer heal the words love and death. The words run, jump and walk are extremely exhausted, like wounded soldiers. / We should at once blank out every page of the dictionary . . . Only in the age of our great grandchildren would we allow people to utter words one by one, just as if they would build houses. From the essay, Words, by Toshio Nakae