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Saturday, June 30, 2001
Cracking foreign code
By AMY CHAVEZ
The problem with foreign languages is that they change all the normal rules. Normal language meaning YOUR native language, and not anyone else's. Those people who invented foreign languages changed the rules just so you wouldn't be able to imitate their language easily. Like protecting their secret code.
So today I'll help you crack the secret code of Japanese by revealing its rules and applying them to English.
First, we're going to change the rule of singulars and plurals. Japanese doesn't use them, so English doesn't need them either. So, rather than saying, "Do you have any tomatoes?" we can just say, "Do you have any tomato?"
Next, we're going to add a sound in front of certain words that we think we should respect. Saying just "tomato" is rude to the tomato, so we should put a marker in front of it to show it just how much we respect it. Let's put "hey" in front of it. "Heytomato" shows deference.
Since everyone has a different opinion on which words to show respect for, we can randomly apply this rule: All words that rhyme with tomato, red or stand should have "hey" before them.
Next, we'll need different words for counting different things. Then we can assign those counting words to certain groups of things that go together. Let's do this by color. All red things will be counted using the suffix "wham," as in onewham. All yellow things will use "bam," as in onebam. Blue and green things will use "mam," as in onemam. Thus, "Do you have three tomatoes?" would become "Do you have threewham heytomato?
In addition, the numbers four and seven will also go by other names, in this case John and Todd. Thus, "Do you have Johnwham heytomato?" means "Do you have four tomatoes?" Then we'll add some sounds, such as a trilled "r," that don't exist in your language so you sound like an injured duck when you try to speak: "Do you have quack Johnwham heytomato?
Next, we need some confusing endings for verbs, preferably ones that will show different levels of respect according to a person's age and status so that we can be put in embarrassing situations if we use them incorrectly. There should be plenty of opportunities for embarrassment from making minute mistakes. So, for people higher than us, we'll use the verb ending "shikoomba" and for those below, "biboomba." So, if we're asking for tomatoes from a person of higher status, we would say, "Do you haveshikoomba quack Johnwham heytomato?"
Next, we should have at least a half-dozen words for "you," since the word itself is rather direct. I recommend Sleepy, Dopey, Happy, Sneezy, JFK and Elvis. Thus, "Do Elvis haveshikoomba quack Johnwham heytomato?"
Furthermore, we can simplify this by putting the question marker at the end: "Elvis haveshikoomba quack Johnwham heytomato do?"
Let's also randomly apply onomatopoeic words to body parts. Hand would be "wan-wan," and since hand rhymes with stand, "heywan-wan."
Next are words that if pronounced incorrectly will mean something entirely different, preferably so embarrassing you'll never be invited back. Thus, "Elvis haveshikoomba quack Johnwham heytomato in Dopey heytan-tan" would mean, "You have four tomatoes in your nose" instead of in your hands.
Lastly, we need another two alphabets. I recommend one based on animal shapes, for words from other languages, and the other on geometric shapes, for words from Mars.
But the alphabets are a different secret code altogether.