Thursday, February 4, 2010

In Perfect Hominy

As you may know, Animals don’t need words to communicate. A subtle language of sound and color, simple beyond our Monster imaginings, is their way - involving images layered with emotion – where cardinal sins come in feathered shades of red, and pools of sanguine darken as they dry, where carmines are deep as ermines are white, where a rose is a rows is a roes…

And that’s exactly where one encounters a major difficulty in translating a written language to a language that has no words, Bink points out. Rose and rows. Red and read. Those pesky homonyms. You can't explain them and you can't pretend they're not there.

Bink, Our Pocket Philologist, as a young lad in his mother’s pouch (dear, mysterious Gretel!) started trying to fathom the intricacies of Monster Language in relation to Animal Language. The complexities of Monster Language came to obsess him, though so much cruder than his mother-tongue. In fact, it is perhaps the crudeness itself that exerted its fatal fascination on his orderly mind. The siren song of chaos?

He sometimes brings his knowledge to Big Bed Land by teaching a seminar. Reactions to these have definitely been mixed in the past, but Bink feels it's important to keep trying. He began his latest seminar by writing this list of words on the blackboard:

Polar Knight (Great Big Bard of Big Bed Land) became excited right away. "I understand those, I really do," he said and right away he improvised the following poem:

"To reed an owed to a buoy aged too
You knead a buoy who can be red two."

"Excellent!" said Bink and explained to all and sundry that Buoy:Boy is an example of what poets call a "slant homonym."

Well, some Animals can read and some can’t – they only learn if they want to – but Lefty is the only one who can sometimes read and sometimes can’t. Bink’s class was on one of the days he couldn’t read. This presented something of a difficulty when talking about spelling, and Bink gave Lefty special attention. Here's an example of the Animal Socratic method:

"OK, Lefty, what do we call words that sound the same but are spelled differently?"
"Hominy grits."
"Common hymns?"

Bink decided he had to put an end to what threatened to shortly become a complete takeover of the Socratic method. Luckily Bink is fast at thinking on Gretel's feet.

"What’s black and white and red all over?" he asked. Lefty adores riddles and jokes. Bink and the rest of class had the pleasure of watching Lefty twist this way and that, stand on his head, scrunch up his face, and remain completely silent while he tried to solve this riddle. At last he presented the solution:

"Chairman Panda in a spangled dream!"

(An ancient story of Big Bed Land relates how Chairman Panda invented the miraculous Panda Air flying hammock as well as the method for Animal Teleportation while dreaming among the newborn stars.)

Bink declared the seminar a success and the students announced there would be a picnic for all Animals in honor of Bink and Gretel! With Alphabet Soup, of course, Bink's favorite.


  1. Those pesky homonyms. Love this charming world of Big Bed Land.

  2. delightful!!

    why am I having a yen for some grits?

    actually that sounds good - it is time for breakfast and check out today's black and white and read all over!

    happy theme thursday!

  3. Dear Willow,
    thanks! The Animals especially liked your post today...lovely and inspiring.

  4. Dear Mouse,
    Lefty was quite impressed by your bringing that riddle into your comment...and I don't think I mentioned that they especially liked that photo of the red mouse on your post today. They have never met a red mouse, and this one might become one of the dream-presences in Big Bed Land...

  5. Words can be worrisome so you gotta show 'em who's boss from time to time. Put the mean in meaning. Better still, take them to the play tank (like a think tank, only more fun) and chic/sheik/shake them up a bit. With spangles. Way to go, Bink and company!

  6. ha. lovely play on the theme and what a wonderful world of bink.

  7. I had an Abbot and Costello flashback there. Bink's sense of humour is certainly on an elevated plateau (it seems to us (or is it "we"?), here at the Hyggehus).

  8. confusing!
    Lovely play on words today.
    Cute animals FOR SURE!

  9. Dear Aunt Phoenix,
    put the mean in meaning! I like that. It put Goat in the mood for hand-to-hand combat. He says: spangles are possible. They could distract the enemy. Glad to hear you sounding so fierce! You always look lovely in fierce - red too, for that matter.

  10. Hay Eberly,
    today I was reading your latest post to my mom and it was funny after your big play on words to read a complete take over over the socratic method, a complete take over of the sarcastic method.

  11. Dearest Iris,
    I wish you could see Lefty and Duffy - they read your comment and fell over laughing, you know the way they do... Goat says to say hi to you and tell you that the sword you made is still strong and true! Can't wait to see you...!