Kůlp Månifesto

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Recently, a package from Canada arrived at the Penn Linguistics Department — though it was addressed to

Dept. Di Linggwistika
U. Di Pensilvania
Fiiladelfia, Pa
19,104, U.S.Å

It contained multiple copies, on variously-colored paper, of an odd 11-page document.

The first page starts like this (assuming I've managed to transcribe it correctly):

Kůlp Månifesto
Di Linggwistikal Konservatism

Korrektik linggwistikal konservatism ar ẘunderfůl: it priizerv el gůdnes di a thing: ånd it åtempt tu korrekt, or tu eradikåt, el bådnes.

An image of the whole page:

If you want a .pdf of the whole thing, let me know. Web search fails to turn up an online copy. Perhaps the author sees the internet as promoting violations of linggwistikal konservatizm?

The text is mostly understandable as oddly spelled English, with a few function-word substitutions like el for "the" and di for "of" — though I'm drawing a blank for Kůlp, and I'm not entirely clear what the principles of underlining are.

If anyone recognizes the style or the source, please let me know.



  1. Laura Morland said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 5:22 pm

    I'm impressed with the Linggwistika acumen of the Postal Service di Fiiladelfia. In how many other cities would this Månifesto have reached you, thus addressed?

  2. David Cameron Staples said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 5:27 pm

    Two paragraphs into trying to read this, I started smelling burned toast.

  3. Y said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 5:42 pm

    ů seems to stand for /ʊ/, which deepens the mystery. So it's not Guelph (/ɡwɛlf/), though the thing was mailed from Toronto.

    There are allusions to Esperanto, Tagalog, Hollywood Foreigner English, Catholicism, and, probably, lots and lots of pot.

  4. Chris Waigl said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 7:03 pm

    @Y said: Well, with with korrůpt, wůd and wůrd I'm not banking on any great consistency here.

    There are some points that make me think this wasn't written by an English C2+ (full proficiency) level author.

  5. Ex Tex said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 7:19 pm

    If you can fully decipher this, you should have a go at the Voynich Manuscript next

  6. mollymooly said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 8:36 pm

    Kůlp is Ted W Kulp, and his language is called Kanadio.

  7. M. said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 8:38 pm

    This looks like an attempt to puzzle readers by inducing them to react in precisely the ways that some of those commenting here indeed have.

  8. Jason Stokes said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 9:24 pm

    I guess I've spent too much time studying creoles, because I found nearly all of this perfectly legible, and even started hypothesizing about this dialect having a relationship to Mauritian creole or Jamaican Patwa.

    Which it doesn't, really, but I think the author would be very happy on a conlang board, to be told about Toki Pona.

  9. Susanne said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 11:15 pm

    I agree with Y that it's a prank.

  10. Susanne said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 11:17 pm

    Correction: I agree with Y and M. that it's a prank.

  11. norgie said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 11:27 pm

    @mollymooly, definitely him, and the Canadian postage matches since he is from Canada. Seems like he has been sending these out with no sender information for a long time. Here's a Reddit thread about a previous letter https://old.reddit.com/r/language/comments/37prib/a_crazy_old_substitute_teacher_left_my_english/ and https://i.imgur.com/4ZNRMxe.jpg

  12. Geoff M. said,

    September 5, 2022 @ 11:34 pm

    mollymooly is correct. I used to see photocopies of his flyers around campus when I was a Glendon College undergrad. The now-deleted Wikipedia article about him is preserved at https://deletionpedia.org/en/Ted_W._Kulp

  13. Andrew Usher said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 7:34 am

    Not a prank, but a crank, therefore.

    An analysis of his 'language' (or 'idiolect') and its spelling might have some linguistic value, depending on how you define it, but I'd be inclined to ignore this one.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo.com

  14. J.W. Brewer said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 8:20 am

    In terms of the performance of the U.S. Postal Service, I assume that despite the stray comma "19,104" was correctly recognized as a zip code (and indeed a zip code in "Pa."), which was enough to get the package close enough to its destination that the local postal folks could figure out the intended destination — and/or just gave it to some general UPenn mail-receipt location, with Penn employees then decoding the "Di Linggwistika" part.

    @Andrew Usher. Is there a conceptual difference between a "crank" and a "promoter of a self-devised conlang" and if so how do you diagnose which side of the line a particular fellow falls on?

  15. Scott P. said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 8:45 am

    @Laura Morland:

    I'm reminded of the parcel of Indiana Jones memorabilia that was mailed by someone to "Abner Ravenwood" at the University of Chicago, and it managed to get delivered to the Oriental Institute there.

  16. Allan from Iowa said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 10:05 am

    Fortis and tennis?

  17. Gregory Kusnick said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 11:01 am

    JW: The fact that Kulp calls for actual Language Police, with re-education camps for offenders, seems fairly diagnostic.

  18. Philip Taylor said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 12:09 pm

    Oh, I don't know, Gregory — I have a certain sympathy for that proposal, even if I do regard both the manifesto and the ideas which underly it as complete and utter rubbish … Just imagine the pleasure that one would derive from reporting a miscreant for writing "wanna", knowing with complete certainty that after three months of re-education he would never again write anything other than "want to".

    Not for nothing did my late lamented French master have a category of errors which he classed as "criminal mistakes", and for which the punishment was notably severe — even to this day, 60 years or more after committing such an crime, I still remember that one must write "Madame Mercier va aux magasins, où elle rencontre les parents de Susanne " and never "Madame Mercier va à les magasins …", a mistake which I made once and which I never, ever repeated.

  19. David Marjanović said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 12:22 pm

    Fortis and tennis?

    Confusion of:


    …and tennis.

  20. David Marjanović said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 12:27 pm

    even to this day, 60 years or more after committing such an crime, I still remember

    Trust me, such things are learnable without any punishment whatsoever.

    I also can't resist pointing out that putting wanna, something that most native speakers (in the UK as much as in the US) say on a daily basis even if many of them are reluctant to write it, on the same level as *à les, something no native speaker has said or written in easily a thousand years, strikes me as a rather bad category error. Almost criminal, one might even say. :-)

  21. Philip Taylor said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 1:58 pm

    I would be inclined to suggest, David, that (if true) the primary reason why no native speaker of French has ever said or written "à les" (other than in cases where the word following "les" is a proper noun, such as les meilleurs restaurants à Les Sables d'Olonne, Vendée is because the French pride themselves on speaking correctly, whence the existence of L'Académie française. The lack of such an august body in both the United States of America and in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, together with the willingnes with which (if true) the population of both rush to accept and adopt abominations such as "wanna" and "gonna" says far more about the standards of education in Anglophone countries (vs Francophone countries) than it does about the relative correctness (or otherwise) of à les and *gonna.

    And yes, one can remember to write aux rather than à les without punishment, but would one also remember the exact sentence in which the phrase occurred after more than sixty years if it had not been beaten into one by a French master who routinely drew a chalk cross on the behind of a pupil before applying the slipper (on the sole of which a matching cross was chalked) in order to demonstrate that his aim was as close to perfect as is humanly possible ?

  22. mollymooly said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 2:17 pm

    I think would would more likely say "les meilleurs restaurants aux Sables d'Olonne", just as they race "les 24 Heures du Mans".

  23. EmilyPigeon said,

    September 6, 2022 @ 11:15 pm

    A few months ago I found one of these Kanadio missives in the UCSD linguistics department mailroom (in an "unsolicited mail" basket).

  24. maidhc said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 1:52 am

    I'll tell you one thing about the US post office–they will not deliver first class mail unless the name of the recipient is legible to them. Once a friend of mine, for a joke, sent me something with my name written mirror image, and the post office sent it back to him, stamped with a message like "Recipient Name not legible". The address, zip code and everything were written normally.

    On the other hand, it doesn't have to be in English. I don't know what they would do if the name were in Cyrillic, or Thai, or some other writing system. I haven't tried.

    The example here is fairly readable, really.

    The US post office generally puts their own routing code on the front of the item. If you look at postcards, you can see they normally leave a little blank space for this. I imagine most of the addresses are read automatically now. If the text recognition fails, it probably gets routed to a human operator who keys in the information. If that person can't figure it out, it probably gets taken to some old codger who has seen everything in his sixty years' experience at the post office since age sixteen. (I'm extrapolating from a stint I did working in the post office many many years ago.)

    If there's not a blank space on the front of the item, a piece of white sticky will get put on for the routing code, regardless of whether it covers up anything you may have written there.

  25. Andrew Usher said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 8:31 am

    Do you think the Post Office has any consistent rule on non-standard addresses? I haven't seen anything authoritative, and single anecdotes aren't either way.

    On mollymooly's point about '24 Heures du Mans' etc. (aside from the fact that that one example has become a single fused name) many languages deal specially with arthrous proper names. English doesn't have such contractions, but even though proper names are usually invariable an article is dropped after a grammatically required one, and normally also after any other determiner incompatible with one: I hoped David Marjanovic would say what German does.

    'Fortis ant tennis' amused me, too – I can't explain it except as an error for 'lennis', but I don't think his spelling would have doubled the consonant there. He's clearly familiar with linguistic terminology and would not be expected to make such a blatant malapropism.

  26. JJM said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 8:37 am

    "[T]he primary reason why no native speaker of French has ever said or written 'à les'… is because the French pride themselves on speaking correctly, whence the existence of L'Académie française."

    The primary reason a native speaker of French does not say or write "à les" is that they learn "aux" by osmosis from the time when they first start to speak as toddlers. The evolution of Old French "a le/a les" first into "al/als" then to "au/aux" was completed 500 years ago in Middle French.

    It has nothing to do with "speaking correctly" but rather the simple fact that the way you express the equivalent of "to the" in the masculine singular and the plural is by "au" and "aux" respectively. By the time French-speaking kids start school, they are already using "au/aux" (as well as "à l'" and "de l'/du/des") without a second thought, because that's what they hear everyday all around them since birth.

    By the way, you overrate French pride in "speaking correctly". Spend any time with a broad cross-section of native French speakers and you'll soon realize that they are no better at speaking "correctly" than a broad cross-section of native English speakers.

  27. JJM said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 8:47 am

    "[A]bominations such as 'wanna' and 'gonna'…"

    If "wanna" and "gonna" are abominations, then so is "aux" since it essentially represents the very same tendency for flattening and smooth speech.

    What exactly is the difference between "want to" evolving into "wanna" and "a les" evolving into "aux"? Why is the former considered poor English but the latter perfectly good French?

  28. Philip Taylor said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 1:46 pm

    I imagine, JJM, that had I been alive (and French) at the time when à les was first starting to mutate into "als" and then into "aux", I would have been absolutely horrified, and would have classed the speech of my contemporaries as totally degenerate. But 500 years on, I can look at it detachedly and say "well, yes, aux is clearly more euphonious than à les, and as it is regarded as grammatically correct by l’Académie française, who am I, a mere anglophone, to query their ruling ?".

    But we don't have an 'English Academy' to rule on such matters, and the SPE went extinct before I was born, so I am forced to judge *gonna and *wanna solely on the basis of what my parents would have said had I made such a sound, what my teachers would have said, and how I react when I see the ?words? in print (I am less concerned with the sound itself than I am with its reification as a fully spelled-out word, especially when Youtube offers "gonna" as a caption when the speaker has clearly said "going to").

    So what would my mother have said had I used "gonna" in her presence ? She would have accused me of "talking like a common little guttersnipe" (her exact words), and while my teachers would not have used that same turn of phrase, they would without doubt (and without exception) have pulled me up for using slovenly speech instead of the standard, "educated", style of speech that was expected of, and inculcated in, schoolchildren at that time. And how do I personally react ? Well, very badly if I see the ?words? spelled out, and with distaste if I hear them — neither "gonna" nor "wanna" are more euphonious than the phrases that they replace, and I mentally put them in the same category as /ˈfeb ju‿ri/, /ˈnjuː kjə lə/ and /ˈbɒʔ əl/ — "uneducated speech".

  29. Scott P. said,

    September 7, 2022 @ 4:35 pm

    "and /ˈbɒʔ əl/ — "uneducated speech"."

    Well, unless you are an ancient Phoenician.

  30. GH said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 2:31 am

    @Philip Taylor:

    Do you realize that by your own account, your antipathy to "wanna" is not based on any rational argument or objective inferiority, but in fact entirely on class-based prejudice; a horror of being perceived as "common," i.e., working-class?

    Of course you cannot be blamed for having had such ideas inculcated a a child, but in your maturity – and after years of reading Language Log – I feel you ought to know better: to recognize the prejudices of your background for what they are and not elevate them to a question of "correctness" or a "standard of education," much less something that warrants punishment.

  31. Philip Taylor said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 3:32 am

    The "warrants punishment" was, of course, intended light-heartedly (although I am, of course, deeply grateful to Mr Weir for ensuring that I have never again contemplated even for one second the possibility of writing à les magasins), but a desire not to "sound like a common little guttersnipe" seems a perfectly reasonable and unexceptionable desire to me, even at the age of 75. Yes, of course it is class-based, but does that make it wrong ? Should we not all aspire to speak properly, and to eschew slang (and "vulgar pronunciations", which is in part how my 1933 supplement to the OED classifies the word) in all but the most restricted circumstances ?

    Much as I loathe the term, the British Government is at least attempting to "level up" society; those who would defend *gonna, *wanna and their ilk are, it seems to me, doing their best to "level down".

  32. Andrew Usher said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 7:33 am

    It is true that there's nothing wrong with the desire to 'speak correctly', but when that extends to condemning near-universal usage, even by the most standard speakers, it has taken a wrong turn. I am quite sure that virtually everyone says 'gonna' and 'wanna' in spontaneous speech most of the time; in this they differ from the other 'vulgar' pronunciations you cited, which I would never use.

    There's actually a big difference between the two: Wanna is just a weak form of 'want to', no different in principle from the contractions that have had established standard spellings for a long time, as well as many weak pronunciations that are not written (the articles are a special case) – as with them, it will not replace the strong form completely. I personally don't want to write it outside of quoted speech or dialogue, but if there comes a time when it's as normal as can't and don't, there'd be no objection.

    On the other hand, gonna is a grammaticalisation as it has acquired a different meaning from its literal constituents 'going to'. Though there may be variation, I really never use the full 'going to' pronunciation when I mean the future tense, while I always do in the literal meaning. I suspect that the availability of the alternative will for formal use has removed pressure to use gonna in writing. But in speaking, at least, it has simply become a normal part of grammar.

  33. Philip Taylor said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 8:14 am

    I think, Andrew, that your analysis is fair from the perspective of an American. But in the United Kingdom, whilst /ˈɡɒn ə/ and /ˈwɒn ə/ are by no means unattested in speech, and whilst at least one popular music group has used the fully-spelled-out "wanna" in the lyrics of a song, I would argue that neither form any part of educated British speech. They are, if you like, shibboleths — sounds which most (but perhaps not all) educated speakers would seek to avoid in any but the most informal circumstances. But I fully accept that the same may well not be true for North American English.

  34. Philip Taylor said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 8:36 am

    And I should add, in all fairness, that I now realise that the use of spelled-out "gonna" by a British vocal artiste pre-dates the Spice Girls by over 30 years — Cliff Richard used "gonna" in the lyrics of Travellin’ Light as long ago as 1963 …

  35. Terry K. said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 9:01 am

    "gonna" spelled that way in the lyrics of a song as posted on an internet lyrics site is not any evidence of how the songwriter or singer chose to write it. Lyrics on the internet for a song from 1963 having "gonna" is not evidence that anyone wrote "gonna" in 1963. Just evidence that the song it (probably) sung with (what we write as) "gonna" and thus someone, in the present, transcribed it with the written form "gonna". Also seems like what happens in a song lyrics of the Spice Girls or Cliff Richard doesn't tell us much about what happens in "educated British Speech".

    From the American perspective, though, I'm pretty sure I would never say "going to" in a context where "gonna" works (that is, where I might write "gonna" in casual writing), unless I was being emphatic.

    Also, we might distinguish between reductions that never happen when being carefully articulate, but yet are still common to speech, and reductions that have been gramaticalized.

  36. Philip Taylor said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 10:00 am

    « what happens in a song lyrics of the Spice Girls or Cliff Richard doesn't tell us much about what happens in "educated British Speech" » — I agree. I simply did not wish to appear ignorant of the fact that even somebody with an O-level in English Literature is capable, within the context of a song's lyrics, to use spelled-out "gonna", at least if the evidence available on the web is to be believed. From memory Cliff most certainly sang /ˈɡɒn ə/, although whether or not he actually wrote "gonna" would, as you say, require access to sheet music published at that time. I am inclined to believe that he did.

  37. JJM said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 10:12 am

    Philip, you've actually hit upon the main point: the key difference between, say, "aux" and "wanna" is one of acceptability: "aux" is universally acceptable to French speakers; "wanna" is not universally acceptable to English speakers.

    Perhaps a more valid comparison might be "don't" and "won't" which long ago established themselves as acceptable contractions, notwithstanding their phonetic "distance" from "do not" and "will not".

    And then of course, there's always that Rodney Dangerfield of English contractions: "ain't".

  38. Guy Plunkett III said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 10:15 am

    I am not going to wade into the English vs. French class-oriented debate, but on the matter of the USPS, Tom Scott has a wonderful video "How the US Postal Service reads terrible handwriting"


  39. Allan from Iowa said,

    September 8, 2022 @ 2:15 pm

    Thanks, David M. I knew "lenis" but didn't think of "tenuis".

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