May 14, 2004

Envoi for the omission of lexical categories

Continuing the lexical-category-omission thread, Paul Goyette at locussolus has contributed an excellent verb-free post, so cleverly done that you might not even notice.

Meanwhile, over at Livejournal, the Grand High Supreme and Mighty Empress Connie has observed that the folks "going out of their way to write without various parts of speech, such as nouns, verbs, and prepositions" are "out of their friggin' minds, but it's kinda cool, in that 'I'm so scared right now' sort of way."

The imperial comment is an appropriate epitaph for the whole exercise, which I think has now largely run its course, unless someone starts writing articles omitting two categories at once. Two significant categories, of course-- an article lacking interjections and pronouns, for example, would not pack the punch of one without any nouns or verbs.

The ultimate point in this progression would be a completely blank post, in the spirit of John Cage's 4'33". Perhaps someone has already copyrighted a blank document, as Cage has effectively copyrighted silence. If not, the royalties could be tremendous...

And well deserved, too. As Walt Whitman said before his tragic accident in Walt Disney Land:

I swear I see what is better than to tell the best;
It is always to leave the best untold.

Posted by Mark Liberman at May 14, 2004 07:49 PM