All words have 900 definitions?

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Reader RC sent in an item from the Australian Law Journal that brings together several LL topics: the relations of language to  legal interpretation, computation, and nonstandard brain states.

Here is the seal whose inter-word dots are discussed in the quoted transcript:

Wikipedia explains what a "McKenzie Friend" is (and gives some background on DM). Beyond that, you're on your own.

[From ALJ 2010]:

An obscure directions hearing

Most cases in the trial divisions of the New South Wales Supreme Court are the subject of directions hearings a couple of months before the date fixed for trial to ensure that pleadings and affidavit evidence are properly finalised and the matter is actually ready for hearing.

Usually these proceed with workmanlike efficiency. However, particularly where there is a litigant in person, odd things occur. The following is the edited transcript of a directions hearing last November before McClellan CJ at CL:

Applicant F in person

Mr B Hodgkinson SC for the Respondent


M: Appearances from plenipotentiary judge, DM.

HIS HONOUR: I am sorry?

M: I am a plenipotentiary judge. My name is DM. I am from America

HIS HONOUR: That may be, but what is your right to appear here?

M: Excuse me?

HIS HONOUR: What is your right to appear here?

M: Under knowledge of a fraud and the right to stop and correct it. In other words, I have a –

HIS HONOUR: Unless you are a legal practitioner in this State you can't appear in this court.

M: I have been already certified here in the New South Wales courts on four different occasions.

HIS HONOUR: Do you currently hold a practising certificate in New South Wales?

M: No. I just got in from America a couple of days ago. I am making an appearance –

HIS HONOUR: Then, Mr F, you will have to appear. Mr F, you will have to appear for yourself.

HIS HONOUR: You will have to appear for yourself. Do you understand? The gentleman with you does not have a right of audience in a New South Wales court. Do you understand?

APPLICANT: I do also understand that my friend is a judge who can appear in any court anywhere in the world.

HIS HONOUR: Not in New South Wales, I am sorry.

APPLICANT: But New South Wales is also in the same planet.

HIS HONOUR: That's true, but we have a statute in New South Wales which controls legal practitioners who can appear in the Supreme Court and they have to be admitted to appear. Do you understand?

… [Later]

APPLICANT: You see, it is my understanding that Judge DM has been appearing in a number of hearings in this country and even yesterday and technically speaking there is nothing to stop him because he is a judge of the world court and he can step in any court and rule. That's my understanding. So I would appreciate if you can kindly consider what you said previously and allow judge DM talk on my behalf and he has very important things to say as I understand.

HIS HONOUR: He cannot appear without a practising certificate as a lawyer.

HIS HONOUR (to DM): I need evidence that you have a practising certificate in New South Wales. However, you are entitled, if the court grants you leave, to have a friend –

M: McKenzie Friend, yes. I have been a McKenzie Friend, both here and in New Zealand.

HIS HONOUR: Well, that might be right, but you can't come here and act as a lawyer. Do you understand?

M: No, I never have. I have always been a McKenzie Friend here and in New Zealand. I didn't say I was a lawyer. I said I was here to assist him.

HIS HONOUR: You gave me the understanding that you thought you had a right of appearance, or at least –

M: A right as a McKenzie Friend because I have pertinent information that's relevant to this court.

HIS HONOUR: Just a minute. Mr Hodgkinson, what do you say?

HODGKINSON: Your Honour, frankly, I am in the dark. I don't know what the relevant information is. I haven't heard of this gentleman before. I am not sure that I could make any sensible submission. I think the best thing, if there is an application to be made, is to allow Mr M to appear as a McKenzie Friend, then the basis for the application without amplification ought be made to the court. That would at least allow us to compute the reasoning and take an informed view.

HIS HONOUR: What I will do, Mr Hodgkinson, is I will allow Mr M to speak this morning, but confine the leave I grant to this morning. Do you understand?

M: Yes.

M: The paperwork in this case goes back twelve years, as you well know, and I saw the file brought in, it's about four inches thick. The syntax, and I am the judge in 1988 who wrote the mathematical interface on all 5,000 languages proving that language is a linear equation in algebra certifying that all words have 900 definitions through this mathematical algebraic formula and over the course of the past 21 years have developed an accuracy level in the syntaxing of language sentence structure to prove the correct sentence structure communication syntax language is required in a court system.

Now, the seal behind you which advertises the Crown's seal and jurisdiction of this court uses the correct syntax. That is why you have the dots. Now, the dots between the words are prepositional phrases. There's only two places where dots as allowed as a syntax prepositional phrase to certify the value of each word and that is on money, coinage and on seals. When you created, when your Government created the seal they used the correct sentence structure, they used the correct syntax and they are advertising that you have the correct syntax and knowledge of it.

I have looked at the paperwork for the past twelve years and both the doctor and the State in one hundred percent of every single sentence you have got in that folder is modified with adverbs and adjectives and there is not one legal sentence or a prepositional phrase to certify the value of any word so, therefore, the facts of the case have been have been muddled since this case started twelve years ago. The necessity of having the accuracy of a fact in a court, if you are not in a fact you have not committed perjury. And Bernie Madhoff, who you would know has just walked away from Wall Street with $69 billion, was prosecuted under the fictitious conveyance of language of title 18.1001.

Now, this law, title 18.1001, is required on all 250 countries' passports. In other words, fraudulent conveyance. The title 15 chapter 2(b) section 78FF carries a $25 million fine to modify language to extort money from a private citizen from a corporation. This gentleman represents corporation and every single document he has filed has been modified with adverbs and adjectives. So if you are going to modify a fact and change it to something that is not what the true definition of that word is you have got a babble of information in front of you. Now, I know that when we communicate, you and I – you've got a mess.

[Further discussion ensued and the directions hearing was adjourned for some weeks to allow the applicant to apply to amend his Statement of Claim.]

M: Your Honour, can I leave my book with you?

HIS HONOUR: Yes, you may.


  1. Seth Johnson said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 9:28 am

    I hope that no one introduces the claimant to Time Cube. ( )

  2. Tim Silverman said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 9:37 am

    Previously unknown species of crackpot discovered in NSW!

    Scientists suspect it is the result of a complicated hybridisation process between a highly specialised species of grammar peevologist, a fairly commonplace species of vexatious litigant, some kind of mathematical crackpot (as yet unidentified) and perhaps some other kind of linguistics crackpot, distinct from the peevologist.

    "It's unusual for someone to be deluded about so many things at once," commented one researcher. "Usually a crackpot's delusions are centred on a single idée fixe. Such powerful and adaptable organs of delusion are not commonly found, even in the most advanced crackpots. This is a very exciting discovery."

  3. Chris Hunt said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 9:52 am

    Are you sure this didn't happen in the court of Mr Justice Cocklecarrot?

  4. greg said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 10:08 am

    David[hyphen]Wynn[full colon]Miller has a history of this sort of thing

    "My name is David hyphen Wynn full colon Miller," the 53-year-old Milwaukean says, and the brows of his audience of 50 begin to furrow. This crowd of "Patriots" is used to conspiracy theories, but even at an event dominated by antigovernment ideology, Miller is tough going. "The reason I use a full colon and a hyphen in my name, the first full colon, which is full colon David, it means for the David hyphen Wynn. That's my given name, and it's also a noun, because it uses a prepositional phrase. … Because I use prepositional phrases, through punctuation, which is classified as hieroglyphics, which makes me a life, l-i-f-e. Now, when you don't punctuate your name … David is an adjective, Wynn is an adjective, Miller is a pronoun. Two adjectives are a condition of modification, opinion, presumption, which modifies the pronoun, pro means no on noun. So therefore, I'm not a fact. I'm a fiction."

  5. Mark P said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 10:11 am

    Surely he meant that all words have at most 900 definitions.

  6. MattF said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 10:25 am

    There's clearly a need for a linguistic counterpart to the Physics Crackpot Index.

  7. JFM said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 10:27 am

    La Wik may be relevant here:

  8. ·THE:TRUTH· said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    People have gone to jail for using his language. But one Edward Dick succeeded in having a colon appended in front of his Dick. He is the King of Hawaii because he can turn Hawaii into a verb.

  9. John Cowan said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 11:30 am

    I suspect he said Babel rather than babble, but with a TRAP (rather than FACE) vowel so that the Australian transcriber didn't know what it was.

  10. Sili said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 11:59 am

    "It's unusual for someone to be deluded about so many things at once," commented one researcher.

    Clearly the researcher needs to be introduced to the Pringles Theory ("one can never have just one" also known as crackpot magnetism.

  11. marie-lucie said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

    I pity the court transcribers who have to write down such gibberish word for word.

  12. Jens Fiederer said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

    I am impressed. Clearly, M. has a crockus of extraordinary size for a male.

  13. Faldone said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    It reminds of the description of someone's writing:

    Such fine hard Irish, devil a man could understand two words next to each other.

  14. Neal Goldfarb said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

    As some commenters have noted, David Wynn Miller (or, as he prefers it, David-Wynn: Miller) has a history in the US courts. Here's the opening sentence of the decision in a case brought by someone who was "assisted" by Miller:

    Gregory Steven Bartell (“Bartell”) has tried to sue a number of defendants for something, but it is impossible to tell what.

    And then there's this, from a criminal case in which Miller was advising the defendant:

    Now before the court is defendant's “quo warranto complaint for the vacating of the 07-CR-052-C.” Although the government argues that defendant's filing is no more than incomprehensible “gibberish,” the language of the “complaint” is every bit as comprehensible as Lewis Carroll's famed poem:

    ‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    Although defendant's syntax and vocabulary may be unconventional, the gist of his filing is clear. I construe his “complaint” as a motion to dismiss the indictment on the ground that the court and the government have refused to translate all court-related documents into the dialect in which defendant's filings are written. Although plaintiff has the right to draft his filings in whatever language he chooses, the court is under no obligation to conform its practices to defendant's preferences. Therefore, the motion will be denied.

  15. Dan T. said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

    It's rather odd for somebody to advocate correct sentence syntax via a sentence with such fractured syntax as "The syntax, and I am the judge in 1988 who wrote the mathematical interface on all 5,000 languages proving that language is a linear equation in algebra certifying that all words have 900 definitions through this mathematical algebraic formula and over the course of the past 21 years have developed an accuracy level in the syntaxing of language sentence structure to prove the correct sentence structure communication syntax language is required in a court system."

    Regarding his preferred rendering for his name, I suppose the less-mature elements of the audience can get some bathroom humor out of his "full colon".

  16. Alan said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    I'm fascinated by the similarity of writing and speaking styles among — well, I hesitate to say "schizophrenics", not being qualified to diagnose, but… people, let's say, who seem to exhibit the kind of fixation and formal thought disorder that can accompany schizophrenia.

    Compare Mr. Miller's, er, theses to the writings of Gene Ray, or of the late Francis E. Dec, or even the invincibly cheery Emanuel Bronner. The content and even the form differ widely, but the sense one gets of the mind behind the words seems somehow familiar from one to the next.

  17. Christopher Henrich said,

    January 29, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

    He sounds a little bit like the result of passing a law text through Dissociated Press.

    BTW isn't it Chief Justice Lord Cocklecarrot? Never mind: it is great to know that somebody else remembers Beachcomber.

  18. david said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 5:25 am

    are we sure he wasn't trying the Chewbacca Defense?

  19. Graeme said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 8:03 am

    Having sat as a federal judge' clerk in Australia and had a litigant in person fling a $200 gold coin at me as part of an argument that the Judge and Queen were party to an illegal international conspiracy involving fiat money, nothing will surprise me.

  20. uberVU - social comments said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 11:28 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by PhilosophyFeeds: Language Log: All words have 900 definitions?

  21. Bill Walderman said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 11:33 am

    There's another side to this. I have a close friend who's a paranoid schizophrenic. Medication keeps him from uttering the sort of word salad that David Miller does, but the disease is devastating and heartbreaking. My friend has very impressive academic credentials (which he acquired before the disease manifested itself in full force), but he has spent most of his life completely unable to work and in poverty. He now lives in a group home. He is constantly in a state of emotional turmoil, reliving unpleasant experiences that happened thirty or forty years ago, and he can't go outside without experiencing the sensation (which in some way he seems to know is an illusion caused by his illness) that his environment is full of sinister and threatening messages directed at him.

  22. Ron Butters said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    Bill Walderman's comment is right on the mark. It is hard not to laugh at schizophrenic babble such as this, but the reality IS heartbreaking. I have known two fine scholars who, in the late stages of brain cancer and HIV-related brain damage, seemed equally certain that the gibberish they were uttering was brilliant and insightful.

    Even so, this "McKenzie Friend" makes almost as much sense as some "forensic linguistics expert witnesses" whose testimony I have read, and some of them get paid $450 per hour. So maybe he is actually onto something.

    And I suppose that our students have sometimes thought that some aspects of our lectures on syntactic theory were equally incomprehensible.

  23. Robert Rodman said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    Who's on first?

  24. marie-lucie said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

    Yes, the people uttering this kind of "word salad" probably have some psychiatric or other medical condition, but I wonder at those who take them seriously enough to become their disciples or pay them good money for their help in fighting the justice system.

  25. Simon Spero said,

    January 30, 2010 @ 5:42 pm

    That all words have 900 definitions is (virtually) conceptually necessary.

  26. J. Goard said,

    January 31, 2010 @ 8:58 am


    This page is the only Google hit for "crackpot magnetism".

    "Also known as" = by you, privately? :-)

    Nice term, though.

  27. nbm said,

    January 31, 2010 @ 1:32 pm

    But don't you love that at the end of all that he finally comes up with this crystal-clear statement:

    "Now, I know that when we communicate, you and I – you've got a mess."

  28. Nathan Myers said,

    February 2, 2010 @ 7:35 pm

    I liked how, at the very end, the Judge took the trouble to correct one word DM spoke: "Can I leave my book with you?" "You may". Another moment of clarity, to be cherished like them all.

  29. Anne Maertz said,

    January 12, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    Here's my crackpot theory: "Lee" is the most common middle name for criminals in the US. I bet there's some correlation with socioeconomic status.

  30. .NetRolller 3D said,

    July 19, 2012 @ 9:47 am

    This guy reminds me of XKCD's Bobby Tables.

    How about,
    Judge: David-Wynn: Miller v. Robert');DROP TABLE Students;–

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