Deflationary language

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Things have been rather quiet here at Language Log Plaza. Monday I was the only one in the office. With nothing else to do I decided to play an old Victor Borge tape and it gave me an idea that might be an interesting game you can play during the holidays.

Victor Borge made inflationary language popular, or at least his presentation of it did. It was a great idea for the glory days of constant inflation, but things are just not the same today. We’re now told that deflation is rampant in our economy. Naturally, that would call for Victor Borge to revise his inflationary language routine to its opposite. Since he’s no longer with us to do it, someone has to. Try it. It’s lots of fun and it makes a nice holiday party conversation. So here are some samples to get you started:

Folk tale: “Never upon a time there were two little pigs…”

Lincloln: One score and six years ago our fathers brought third on this continent…

Frost’s “One road diverged into a yellow wood…”

Traditional “The Eleven days of Christmas”

Kesey’s “Zero Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

Shakespeare’s Eleventh Night

Shakespeare’s “One Gentleman of Verona”

Dana’s “One Year Before the Mast”

Dumas’s “The Two Musketeers”

The Arabian Nights: “Ali Baba and the Thirty-nine Thieves”

And don’t forget the six wonders of the world, your four senses, the six seas, sixth heaven, and good old Alfred Lord Nineyson.

I’m sure you can do a lot better than this.

Go third and have some Borgean language fun. Don’t give it a first thought. You probably need a break anyway.

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