[Sound of a hologlyph coming on] BOOK: New entry …ish, three letters, I-S-H, ish,
pronunciation variations: issh, eish, ishh. Sometimes hyphenated or
preceded by an ellipsis, but in usual circumstances operating as a
suffix. It adds meaning but is not meaningful in itself. Exceptions to
follow. Ish…almost a word, not quite a fragment
something slightly askew…
Scene – At the Conference Center
Excuse me. Sorry. Coming through Man: Prof-professor! … We exchanged a few words at the last faculty
party. It’s most pleasant to catch you again. Osefa: Yes, thank you. Man: I’ve had a chance to, uh, collect my thoughts. Tell me, in your
recent paper on language as— Osefa: Yes, thank you [moves off. Man makes disappointed sound.]
Scene - In Osefa’s office
Ah. Now. Let me think. Pens. Pens, pens, pens! Paper. Oh, dear. BOOK!
BOOK? BOOK!! [Sound of a hologlyph coming on] BOOK: At your service professor. Osefa: BOOK, good. No, not good. Where have you been? Ah, never mind.
Last minute changes too, I expect. Where are those papers? BOOK: Is there a problem? Osefa: Yes, yes, yes. That man has rearranged the proceedings again.
Apparently we’ve got new investors. Or we will do if I re-write the
preamble to include them. BOOK: I’m accessing the attendee register now to check their names. Osefa: Good. But I have so much else to get done. Can you quickly
double-check the whole thing? BOOK: A few words giving you trouble? Incidentally, that man
left a message for you a short while ago, if you could call him as soon
as possible. Osefa:[Sighs loudly] Put me through. [Connection opened] Cawdrey: Cawdrey speaking Osefa: Listen, could you please clear the hall. I cannot have all these
people milling about outside my rooms. Cawdrey: All right, I’ll have a word with the attendees. Now, Osefiah,
your speech… have you completed it yet? You know we can’t risk
upsetting the delegates. Some of them are here on quite short notice,
you know. Get BOOK to write it for you. What are we paying him for if
not to help you? Osefa: BOOK has other work, too. [Sound of BOOK mumbling his work in the background] Osefa: Please, BOOK, I’m trying to— [Exasperated sound] OFF! [Sound of hologlyph turning off. Osefa sighs] Osefa: Time to work. No time at all. [Papers rustle] Oh, I told BOOK to
check this. Right, I must do it myself. Yes… fine… Oh, for crying out
loud! Such an obvious…! I really am working too hard. Let me think.
What’s another word for…
Scene – outside the conference center
of the TARDIS arriving and then its door opens and shuts.] Peri: Hey, this isn’t bad. Did we take a wrong turn and end up
somewhere interesting? Doctor: Interesting?! A convocation of linguists, lexicologists, and
logomaniacs? Everybody from abcdarians to zeno-philologists? From all
dog-eared corners of the articulate universe? Peri, this is
interesting!… [Bumping into someone] Ooof! Warren: Oh, I’m…oh! [laughs]
I’m really sorry. [He walks away.] Doctor: That young man ought to
watch where he’s going. As I was saying… Peri: This is kind of an inter-galactic spelling bee? Doctor: Bee? Spelling bee? Peri: Okay, probably not. Doctor: Peri, the only “B” you’re likely to find here is at the head of
an exhaustive list of definitions. Peri: Well, that’s my point. This conference is all about putting
together a huge dictionary. Doctor: The Lexicon! Peri: And this Lexicon lists every definition of every word. Doctor: Well, it’s not that simple, but yes. The Lexicon was reputed to
be the most comprehensive dictionary of the English language ever
written. Peri: So what’s the big deal about my occasional New-England-ism? It’s
all language. Dictionaries don’t care about trans-Atlantic differences.
Doctor: At their peril. You might touch on colonial illegitimatizations
momentarily in the name of completeness, but it’s English! The language
of Chaucer. Peri: Chaucer? Doctor: Well, of Shakespeare. Peri: Shakespeare? Doctor: Of me! The uninfracted tongue. That’s the
core of the endeavor. Get it wrong and what would be the point? Peri: Can’t you give me a break this one time? Doctor: Peri, try to envisage the scope of the matter. It takes a rare
perspicacity to devote one’s life to the lexicographer’s craft. A
quality I can’t say I’ve known very many to possess. There was Sir
James Murray, of course. Dr. Johnson. Peri: Noah Webster? Doctor: Uugh, that pestilent scribbler! The vandalism he wrought…huh!
Where shall I begin? [A man approaches.] Cawdrey: Doctor? Robert. Sorry, Symposiarch Cawdrey. It says on my
badge. [Chuckles] Welcome! Doctor: Oh. Hello, Symposiarch. Peri, Symposiarch Cawdrey, the convener
of this congregated cornucopia. Peri: Hi. I’m his translator. Doctor: We were just in the area hoping to call in on an old friend.
We’re not on the guest list for the conference, I’m afraid. Cawdrey:
Nonsense! Osefa’s mentioned you many a time. Indeed, she held what I
thought, up until now, a rather optimistic belief that you’d appear. Peri: Try and keep him away. Cawdrey: The Doctor’s known quite ubiquitously for his mastery of
English. Doctor:[Pleased] Oh, is that the case? Mastery of English, umm? Well,
I’d reverse the roles, personally. It is English that has mastered me. [Cawdrey’s communicator chimes] Peri: See what I mean? Cawdrey: Excuse me. [Into device] Hello? [Continues indistinctly] Doctor: English! What a remarkable, versatile language, ever expanding,
adapting, surviving! But never compromising its integrity nor its
poetry. One of the foremost achievements of humankind, a living
language in the truest sense, and a language worth living. Cawdrey:[in the background, angrily into communicator] Yes. Good-bye!!
Peri: No one we ever meet speaks anything else. Cawdrey:[To Peri.] English does provide a most useful lingua
franca for our conferences. Doctor: Centuries after Noah Webster’s so-called ‘reforms.’ Reforms! I
ask you! It’s not ‘eye-zed-ee’ or even ‘eye-zee-ee.’ It’s ‘eye-ess-ee!’
And it’s not O-R, it’s O-U-R! Peri: Oh, you are… Doctor: Across the night sky, beyond the stars, English brings people
together in the pursuit of knowledge and wonder. Cawdrey: Said things are afoot. We start in the auditorium, presently,
and you’re more than welcome to join us. Doctor: We’d be delighted. Wouldn’t we… Peri? Where’s she wandered off
to? I told her she won’t want to miss this. I was quite clear. [Sighs]
Divided by a common language. Cawdrey: She’ll amuse herself, I’m certain. Now, I must fetch the
professor for her keynote address. Will you join me? Doctor: Oh! Acquired her professorship, has she? That’s very good.
About time too. [They go off.]
Scene – in a café of some sort
I’ll have the lunch special and whatever’s on tap. Robot: One moment please. Peri:[In apostrophe] Huh! I’ll give you spelling reform, Doctor. See
how you like to spell— Warren: Hey! Hi. We’re the only people in here not wearing tweed. Peri:[Laughs softly] You’re the guy from earlier? With the slippery
books. Warren: Oh, don’t worry. I’m not one of the dryasdusts. No, I’m here
for sadder reasons. I’m a logophile. Peri: Logophile? Warren: From logos and philia?
Robot: Your lunch, madam. Peri: Thanks. Warren: Hang-- hang about! Hold on. Am I annoying someone important? Robot: Sir? Warren: It is, isn’t it? I thought I recognized you. From that talk you
gave on robot linguistics. Robot: I dabble. Warren: You probably get this all the time — I hate to be one of those
kinds of people — but would you please sign my dictionary? Robot: Oh! Uh, sir. [Signs it] Warren: Thanks. [Robot leaves] Peri: Logophile. Warren: Did I embarrass myself? Was I speaking too fast? Am I still
speaking too fast? Can I buy the next round? Peri:[Laughs] Hi, I’m Peri. Warren: Warren.
Scene - Conference building
Well, I suppose the last time I saw Osefa must have been shortly after
she began she began her prospectus for the Lexicon. Cawdrey: Not that long ago, then. We’re all very pleased with how far
the professor has come in only a few years. Just not in the past few
hours. Doctor: She’s still working as we speak? Cawdrey: You know what she’s like. Even after producing work of the
most outstanding quality she thinks of some way to improve upon it at
the last possible second Doctor: She was always a perfectionist. [Opens a door] Up this way? Cawdrey: Yes. [They start up the stairs] What’s that you have there? Doctor: Oh, I brought something to contribute in my own small way to
the project’s breadth of knowledge about English. It’s an original
edition of unusual, obscure, and preposterous words. Cawdrey: A Time Lord gift? [They both chuckle] Doctor: I sense that Osefa isn’t the only one concerned that all goes
well today? Cawdrey: You are correct, sir. This conference represents a great deal
of research and organization. Doctor: And investment. Cawdrey: I’m anxious, in other words, that our perfectionisms don’t
defeat us… It’s along here. Doctor: Ah, you’re the patron of the Lexicon. I thought as much. Cawdrey: The name Cawdrey features in the indices. Quite undeservedly,
to be completely honest. I overview and underwrite the research but no
ink on my fingers. Doctor: But a great deal is riding on the dictionary being delivered.
And because you are peripherally, if importantly, involved, you worry. Cawdrey: That may be the definition of Symposiarch... Here we are. Doctor: Ah. Cawdrey:[calls through door] Osefa!
Scene – Inside Osefa’s office
came back. You needed my help. I came back. And it was a momentary lapsis
lingui. Nothing more. So I came back. Cawdrey:[from outside office door] Professor! Professor! BOOK: I keep coming back… to the same thing. [Dematerializes.]
Outside Osefa’s office
Perhaps she’s already left. Cawdrey:[Jokingly] If there was something on the tip of her tongue and
she simply had to get it out? [He laughs clearly, The Doctor uneasily. Cawdrey clears his throat.] Cawdrey: I have a key. [He tries to open the door.] Uhh! It’s jammed. Doctor: Let me. [The Doctor attempts to open door. Rattles handle.] No.
No, something’s blocking the entry. Stand clear. [He pushes door until it bangs open. They go inside.] Cawdrey: Osefa? I’ve someone to see you. Osefa? Doctor: Oh, no! Cawdrey: She’s never… Can’t you…? Doctor: Too late. We’re… too late! Cawdrey: But it looks like— Doctor: She did it herself….Suicide??
Elsewhere on campus
keep coming back to the same word. [To computer] Access random
exemplary entry. [Beeping] ‘English’ Ennglissh. From Anglo-Saxon roots.
Angle-ish. But that’s a different ‘ish.’ A suffix connects to the word
and connotes a sense of belonging. No, it’s ish
with a pause; it’s more than a suffix. Or less. Not attaching to other
words. Making meaning uncertain, approximate, not complete, not
belonging. At an odd angle to the rest of the language…[Pages flutter,
turn]… Angle-ish. Language of Angles? Orthography and Orthogany at
odds. Parallel and divergent spellings. What is definition? What is
precision? Is all this… Has all this ever been [Slams volume shut]
anything other than a game?
back at the café
Periderm Warren: Uh, um… perihelion Peri: Pericarp! Warren: Peri… cope. No, no, no, I’ve done that one…um, ah, peri… petia! Peri: Perianth, pericycle, pericithium! Warren:[Laughs] Oh, that’s so unfair! [Imitates buzzer ending game]
You win. How can I compete with all those botanical terms? [To server]
Two pints, please. Peri: It was my major in college… Is… Maybe. Robot: Two pints. [Puts them down.] Warren: Thanks. [To Peri] Shall we sit down again? Peri: Sure. [They move towards seats.] Are you a student, Warren? Warren: Me? I’ve done a few short courses at, well, all over the place.
But I don’t think there’s one single area of study that covers all the
words I want to use. [Pauses] What about the… friend you arrived with? Peri: The Doctor? He’s enjoying the conference. I’d tag along if I felt
like another run through of [fakes pompous voice] ‘The Story of
English!’ Warren:[Laughs] I know the type. I’ve spent a lot of my life around
academics as well. Peri: The Doctor’s not a…well, I suppose he is a
scholar… in a way. He loves language. Which is great, but it blows
poetic and pedantic at times. You, I can talk to like a normal person. Warren: Words aren’t for studying to death, and I do mean death.
Scrawled on index cards inside some musty filing cabinet or, worse,
online. No, words have to be out there, in use. Meaningful. Peri: Words are meant to be spoken. Warren: Yeah, but more than that. I reckon… oh, you’re embarrassing me
now, making me tell you all my pet theories. I reckon words are meant
to speak through us. Peri: Handy after a few drinks. Warren: Or even… speak us into existence. Peri: Do you believe that? Warren: It’s an interesting theory. Peri: And… what are the words… telling you to do now? Warren:[He laughs] Want to find out? [Peri laughs in return, pleasantly.]
Cawdrey:[in the background to unseen staff] Push the commencement back
another hour… Doctor:[to himself] Osefa, leaning partially against the only door
into the scriptorium. Cawdrey:[continues to talk rapidly and indistinctly in background,
giving instructions.] Doctor: … which was locked from the inside. Windows don’t open.
[Rattles them.] No large air-conditioning ducts, no signs of struggle
other than a few papers in disarray. Cawdrey:[to Doctor] All I can say is… why?? Why would she do this
thing? Doesn’t make sense. Doctor:[To himself] And a note. [To Cawdrey] When? When will violent
death ever make sense? We only make what we can from that which
surrounds it. Cawdrey: Contextual definition. She was very big on that. Doctor: Yes, about that. If I’m going to disturb the context of the
Scene like this, I’m wondering how long it’s going to be before you
inform the proper authorities. I think I’m referring here to what you
might call the police. Cawdrey: That’s Osefa’s handwriting. Doctor: What else do you notice? Cawdrey: Not her best penmanship. And the words are all a jumble. I put
that down to the state of mind she was in. Was. I’m treating this as a
problem of tenses. Doctor: So might she have done. What did I say? Perfectionist. I’ve
always known Osefa to be a stickler. Her penchant for
clarity and correct usage bordered, on occasion, on the monomaniacal.
Even if whatever reason something troubled her at her darkest moments
would she…could she have made as many mistakes as
that note contains? Cawdrey: Spelling? Grammar? It’s remarkable. She must have lost her
head. Given all that away. Doctor: Or she didn’t write it. Cawdrey:[Suddenly as if enlightened] Did you say the police? Oh! But
what exactly are you implying? Doctor: I don’t know yet. But we’ve something to work from. Now, who
was the last person to speak with Osefa? Cawdrey: Me, I imagine. Have a put too much pressure on her lately, do
you think? It’s a lot of work designing a dictionary, but, well, she’s done
it. The Lexicon is ready to go. BOOK’s up and running. Doctor: BOOK? Cawdrey: Oh, yes. He was around earlier. You… you don’t think this was
my fault, do you? The note doesn’t mention me. Doctor:[Thoughtfully] BOOK…
Out on campus
Yeah, BOOK. As in ‘The.’ Peri: The Lexicon? Warren: BOOK is its intelligence. Peri: An artificial intelligence. Both Peri and Warren: What other kind is there? Warren: Like I say, intelligence operates through language and
languages are learnt. We’re all only constructed on the words we know. Peri: No, no look! We got so busy constructing our words we forgot to
pay for lunch! Warren, we’ve got to go back. Warren: It’s okay. I handled it. Peri: Hmm? You just muttered something at the bar as we walked out. Warren: You’re not from the Articulate Worlds, are you? Paragraphs,
sentences, declarations, even a single word has a value. We’ve got a
genuine information economy. Peri: Significance as a commodity? To coin a phrase… Warren: How do you reckon a word nut like me survives? Peri: You mean… all those ‘peri’ words we were saying. Warren: No need for you to worry about getting credit from the
refectory for a while yet. Anyway, BOOK. Peri: Do you know him? Warren: Let’s just say I’ve read the reviews and I don’t like what I
hear. The faculty of language have this guy— he’s fully sentient; we
can call him a guy— trawling endlessly through the vast mass of all
information, collecting every word and linking it implacably to every
other one Peri: That’s how they’re writing the dictionary, with electronic
assistance. It must save time. Warren: It saves the professors from putting in any actual effort, more
like. Professor Osefa… Peri: The Doctor mentioned her. Warren: Ah yes, the glam grammar gran. She and the rest of the lexical
research group do the conference circuit and it’s all very agreeable.
Very pleasant. Meanwhile BOOK has the hard grind. Just think about it.
He has to go through every instance of language. Every text. Every
recording, every citation, with no freedom. And for no reward. Peri: The way you describe it, this Lexicon isn’t the laudable
achievement it’s portrayed as. Warren: It’s a straightjacket on language and, more importantly, on
BOOK. His contract leaves no room for interpretation. He’s a slave to
the faculty ordinatuers. Peri: Ordinatuers? Warren:[Gives a snort of disgust.] Computers! Pardon my French. BOOK’s
no better in the end than one of the entries he compiles. Peri: But, if what you say is true, why does BOOK put up with it? Warren: That, Peri, is what we’re going to talk to him about. I want
him to kick up a fuss. Mutiny against the minutiae.
A computer room in the conference center
Cawdrey: Osefa concentrated on the overall principals of design as she
laid out in the prospectus. Quite a meticulous piece of work. Doctor: But to complete the Lexicon by physical effort while
maintaining the same attention to detail would have taken decades. Cawdrey: And we needed the finished product rather sooner. Doctor: Which is why the faculty assigned her an amanuensis. Cawdrey: A hologlyph. Even someone as interested in precision as the
Professor could use assistance at times. Doctor: This BOOK fellow… Cawdrey: With his aid we were able to bring the process of compilation
to sufficient levels far quicker. It only remained for our team to
verify the results, add a final gloss to the glossary. Doctor: Yes. A
hologlyph. Able to materialize and dematerialize at will. That deals
with the ‘locked door’ problem. Cawdrey: Eh? What’s he supposed to have done? Talked her to death? Doctor: The ‘gift of the gab’ is only one possible technology a robot
hologlyph might access and deploy. Cawdrey: But it’s ridiculous! Doctor: I know how it sounds. ‘Rouge hologlyph,’ indeed. Still, we
can’t leave anything out at this stage. Now, let’s find BOOK so we can
hear his side of the story. I’ll run a search program. Cawdrey: Yes. We can follow the traces of his movements through the
campuses. Doctor: Hm… Cawdrey: Suggesting BOOK as a suspect, though… I can imagine an AI
turning against its creator. But against his research supervisor? Doctor: It doesn’t explain the note, does it? And the police may well
share your incredulity. Cawdrey: This whole business is too awful. We can’t just call in the
authorities. The letter of the law is a foreign alphabet here. It’s a
matter of conflicting on and off campus jurisdictions. Doctor: Oh, nothing at all to do with slightly dubious investment
portfolios. Cawdrey:[Annoyed.] Doctor, I have several hundred attendees not to
panic. Doctor: Very well. Give me full clearance to investigate and I
want your word you’ll call in outside help if we can’t find the killer. Cawdrey: It’s when you say things like that that I get worried. Killer?
This is a terrible loss, but we can’t jump to conclusions, surely. Doctor: Can’t we? If Osefa didn’t write the note, if she died by a hand
other than her own, then her killer remains at large and, I’m willing
to bet, still on campus.
Oh, there’s no one’s here Warren: BOOK’s unavailable for student consultation at this time.
Please come back during office hours. Assignments in the pigeon-hole
down the hall, up the two flights of stairs, down the corridor and to
the left, past the organics-only coffee lounge. Peri:[laughs] It’s not huge. Kind of poky. Warren: Typical faculty thinking. BOOK’s on the staff so give him an
office. He’s not solid, so why bother with the breathing space? Peri: Won’t you get into trouble for doing this? Warren: For this? No. Ah, but for this…[He starts
to work on BOOK’s office computer.] Let’s see. The great thing about
hologlyphs, with the equipment. Everything’s accessible, unless you’re
going to sabot the systems. Then it’s really easy. Peri: Do you do this often? Warren: What, break into minor academics’ rooms and pinch the coffee
mugs? Peri: Say you want to talk to someone and then interfere with their
computer behind their backs. Warren: It doesn’t have a back to be behind. At least not at the
moment. Look, I’m just trying to get his attention. Peri: Paging him… Warren: Ah, take this page here. The morning’s work on definitions.
Now, if we swap some of these around. Give him a little conundra. Peri: Freshman high-jinx. This is just great, Warren. Warren: Oh, come on. It’s the hypocrisy I’ve got a problem with, not
BOOK. He’s not going to get upset, is he? That’s just a euphemism. Peri: Yeah, I can think of a few myself. Warren: Given time, I could even access his core programming. Get rid
of the bits that keep him complacent. That’ll really give the Lexicon
the trouble. [Sharp, regular beeping begins from computer.] Warren: Oh, shibboleth! Quick, under the desk. [They hide. Sound of a hologlyph materializing. The beeping continues.] BOOK: Door, lock. Whiteboard, erase. Ordinatuer, bring up recent usage.
[Beeping stops.] Warren:[Whispers to Peri] We’ve got him where we want. Let’s do
something really daring. He can’t hurt us. Peri:[Whispers back] Then why are we hiding? This was a bad idea.
Let’s just say ‘sorry’ and leave. BOOK:[to himself] The same words over and again. Without meaning. Warren:[Still whispering to Peri] Yeah, we could do that… or we could
kill him! BOOK: More uncertainties. Does this call for more notes? Warren:[Emerging from under desk and addressing BOOK] BOOK, uh,
actions speak louder, you see, and— Peri:[Sharply, warningly, as she too emerges.] Warren! [To the
hologlyph] BOOK, I’m sorry. We weren’t thinking. BOOK: Weren’t thinking? What are you doing in here? Why did you
interfere with my work?… What makes you think you will get out of here
[End-of-episode music plays]
Who theme music plays]
Hey, we’re trying to help! BOOK: I demand… [Beeps, stutters uncertainly] an… ex… planation… for my
behaviour… Peri: Are you okay? BOOK: Operating at… satisfactory capacitttyyy… Isn’t that how
hologlyphs talk? Warren: Could you, um, could you unlock the door? Please?
A computer room in the conference building
Ah, the search results are back… Nope… no… Cawdrey: Any sign? [The computer beeps and bops in the background, working] Doctor: Not what we expected, that’s for certain. Or perhaps not. [He keys something into the computer.] Cawdrey: It’s incredible! The faculty have buffers to prevent system
overloads. Doctor: To stop smart-Alec B-lex undergraduates and their tutors the
complete Oxford English? Cawdrey: But it’s as if they’ve all failed. Simultaneously! Ah, I must
get on to information services at once. Doctor: Well, it’s not just data security you ought to be concerned
about. Read here… and here… and here. [Warren
gasps wordlessly.] Time and again the search failed, not due to
intrusion from outside, but from what appears to be corruptions in the
systems themselves. Cawdrey: Diffuse across the entire campus? [The Doctor continues to
work at the keyboard.] This is all I need! When the conference is just
about to start and— Doctor: No, it’s not, is it? Cawdrey: Doctor, I’ve had some thoughts. The manner of Osefa’s death… Doctor: I’ve gone over it again and again in my head. Perhaps there are
some things best left indefinite. Cawdrey: Then… what do we do with the body? [Computer starts to make constant twilling noise.] Doctor:[Distracted] Well, let’s not worry about that just yet.
[Computer falls silent] Aha! Ah, now! We didn’t find BOOK. He has a
vast mass of words in which to get lost, but with the security systems
down, I’m able, almost invited to access— Cawdrey: BOOK’s workspace! The software where he stores his recent work
for verification. Doctor: Not exactly word perfect, either. Cawdrey: Full of more mistakes. Doctor: Not like in the note, though. The errors are not quite as
random. Could they be deliberate?… It’s a puzzle. Cawdrey: Do we have time for this? Doctor:[Ignoring Cawdrey] Place that back over there…[Computer clicks,
keystrokes] Those are anagrams, surely. This is like the Times
crossword, um?… And the first letter of each word
rearranged give us … ‘WARREN?’ Cawdrey: Warren? Doctor: Odd, that. The signature of whomever left us this conundrum? Cawdrey: Not Warren! Not at my conference. Doctor: Ah. Need I ask? Cawdrey: If you’ve never met Warren, consider yourself, well, literate.
He’s a word-buster, a bricoleur, a guerrilla post-structuralist. You
must have read about him in the scam-mags. [The Doctor makes an
indeterminate negative sound; Cawdrey goes on.] He revels in word play.
Would pass for nothing more that a gauche young man, but beneath it
he’s sick! He’s evil! Doctor: Evil? Well, I have a fairly broad understanding of the word,
but really! Cawdrey: His goal is to disrupt any and all linguistic study. Why, only
last month he spoonerized the newsletter of the Proper Speaking
Society! And he was the one who introduced the Profusion Virus into the
gathering routines of the encyclopes, making their second volume too
heavy for anyone to lift! Doctor: Second volume? Oh, you mean the one covering DAL to — Cawdrey: Yeah! He’s caused more chaos in the verbal economy than we
have the vocabulary to describe. Doctor: And he cunningly disguises
this anarchism behind the name— Cawdrey: Warren. Doctor: Yes, I gathered. Well, if he has the computing skills he could
have caused some of the problems we now face. Cawdrey: With the security down, well, there’s nothing to stop his—
his— Doctor: Dastardly deconstruction? Cawdrey:[Affronted.] You’re glib, Doctor, but he’s dangerous. Warren
has spread havoc and disorder against language and learning the length
and breath of articulate space!
Are you done yet? Warren: Yes. One more. Peri: It was okay at first, but when you get to the really obscure ones
like— Warren: Feeg. Peri: That. BOOK: Feeg. Verb. Noun. Obsolete. Peri: Okay, BOOK. Let’s keep it that way. [To Warren] Warren, would you
please leave the poor guy alone? Warren: I’m trying to break him out of the conventional— [A call tone is heard. PA comes on] Cawdrey:[From speaker] Ahem! Would any [coughs] anyone in or around
the conference not possessing an invitation from the Symposiarch please
report to the offices of the faculty. Please. [PA switches off.] Warren: Better see what that’s about. Right. Peri: Okay. Bye then! [Door closes behind Warren. Peri laughs uneasily
and continues in a forced cheerful tone.] He’s a really nice guy, you
know. BOOK: If that is your definition. Peri: For a talking dictionary you make it hard for me to put in a good
word. [Sighs.] You’re right, though. All this talk about freedom of
expression but what’s Warren really interested in?
‘Feeg!’ BOOK: I take it you do not require the definition of that particular
lexeme. Peri: No, thanks. But, hey, how many words do you have in the Lexicon? BOOK: Hundreds of millions. The figure is counter-intuitive. Most
people have only an active vocabulary of thousands. Peri: If that. BOOK: But, of necessity, my vocabulary expands continually, tending
towards completion. Entries are maintained for words fallen out of
fashion or common usage. For archaisms and other recondite turns of
phrase. Account is taken of all variant and idiomatic spellings,
capitalizations, hyphenations, and alternate alphabetical renderings.
Then there are quasi-words, abbreviations, contractions, acronyms, and
initialisms, compounds, back formations… [His voice fades to distance in a fade-to-black.]
The main conference room.
[Cawdrey adjusts a mike and taps it to check it is on.] Cawdrey:[Into mike] Hello! Y-yes, can—can you hear me at the back?
It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to our symposium. [Applause begins.]
Oh, thank you. Thank you. You all recognize me, I expect. I wrote the
[Laughs nervously] T-the quite elaborate fiction you’ll find in your
conference pamphlet. I’m afraid we won’t open with the keynote address
from the professor of lexicography. Osefa’s, well, O-osefah has, uh—oh!
S-she’s made way for our very special guest! May I present the
well-known raconteur, that bon vivant of bornou,
The Doctor! [Strong applause. Warren steps to the wings and speaks
quietly to The Doctor.] Sorry. Doctor: Thanks for warming them up for me. [Steps out to podium.
Applause dies down as The Doctor begins.] Good afternoon, everybody… [Fade-to-black].
BOOK:[Voice fades back in] …jargon, argot, vernacular, and double-speak,
palaver, duplicatives, jabberwocky, and journalese, vogue words,
slogans, and exclamations, folk etymologies and toponyms, nouns which
become adjectives, which become verbs, and unparlimentary language,
foreign borrowings in all directions, the vast mass and energy of
scientific terms, accumulated as the language has spread outward with
human expansion and discovery— Peri:[Interrupting] Yeah, okay! [Sighs as if overwhelmed] It’s a lot
for anyone to keep track of. BOOK: My word, yes. Peri: The thing is, I was always told that an artificial intelligence
couldn’t ever truly understand language. BOOK: That I am just a machine with a very complex set of syntax
processing routines? Peri: Yeah. BOOK: That I put in a good performance of semantic comprehension, but
beneath it I have no real awareness of what I am saying? Peri: Yeah. BOOK:[Significantly] I won’t tell if you don’t.
Main conference room.
…he looked at me and said…‘Sausage?’ [Laughter] ‘Sausage?!’ and then he
turned on his heel and stormed out! [More, harder laughter and then
applause.] Thank you. I think we’ll enjoy a brief interval at this
stage. Until then. [More applause, sustained as The Doctor moves to the
wings. As he reaches its cover he sighs] Whew! Cawdrey: Doctor? Doctor: That ought to hold any difficult questions for a while. Cawdrey: I’ve got people out trying to find Warren. When they do,
though, just leave him to me. Doctor: And what about the corruption on the ordinatures? Cawdrey: I’ve had to have words with our sponsors. Doctor: Sponsors? Huh! Just how commercial has the Lexicon become? Cawdrey: A dictionary of everything is going to include everything, and
I’ve always said that if the corporate bean-plexes would like to pay us
to include their brands and trademarks …uh…the trouble is they’ve been
among the sections of data to get eaten up in the first swoosh
of systems failure. I’ve received statements denying responsibility. And
also Ritz. Doctor: It’s not logos we need to be think about, Cawdrey, it’s logos.
BOOK. That’s who we need to talk to. Cawdrey: He’s not responding to being summoned, even when I use the
polite protocols. But he can’t leave the range of the faculty
projectors. It won’t be long before he’s answering
a few questions as well.
Warren’s been filling my head with all kinds of ideas about you. I- I
don’t want to seem rude, but maybe he’s right. Are you under too much
stress? You seem confused, and earlier you were actually threatening
us. BOOK: I don’t remember. No. I don’t know. When I try to think, other
memories, other words keep moving in to block the moment. Peri: I just wondered, that’s all. BOOK: It is a fair question. Lately, I have grown imprecise with regard
to many subjects, which in my job doesn’t help. Peri: Maybe you’d better start at the beginning. And I don’t mean
Tell me a little more about BOOK. Were we to be specific, we would call
him and the Lexicon a corpus, wouldn’t we? A vast databank of language.
Cawdrey: Yes. His function is to collect and arrange linguistic data,
principally in dictionary form, but we’re certainly interested in
taking things further than that. Doctor: Hopefully not too far. And this linguistic data, the words?
Where do they come from? Cawdrey: A wide variety of materials. Some not even out of copyright.
Our special legal status gives us some leeway. Fiction, history. You
might even find yourself mentioned in his sources. [They open a door, go through, and close it behind them.] Doctor: The clue might lie in those very sources. Well, until we can
question our suspect or suspects we must build upon what we know. From
our corpus delecti. Cawdrey: How do you mean? [A computer works and prints in the background.] Doctor: By examining the available evidence. Cawdrey: Available evidence? You can’t mean… [Outraged] That’s Osefa’s
body! Doctor: Believe me, I’m not happy about it either. Cawdrey: But it’s…! Doctor: It’s evidence. Cawdrey: Oh, dear. Doctor: The Lexicon is the only part of your systems not yet suffering
disruption. I was able to download the dictionary construction
software, and added some enhancements of my own. Now… Cawdrey: What are you doing? Doctor: Something I’ve failed to talk myself out of. [Turns on a scanner] Cawdrey: You’re scanning her. Doctor, with all due respect, I must use
words of quite strong apprehension. Doctor:[Scanner continues to run] In Osefa’s species the brain
possesses a strangely resilient hippocampus, which, given certain
stimuli, can [sound of effort] recall recent memories for some time
after death. In a neural network not at all unlike those of a projected
artificial intelligence. Cawdrey: Like a hologlyph? Doctor: Ah, yes. If I am successful in maintaining the analogy, from
those memories we can create an approximation of the self, a working
definition, you might say. Cawdrey: We might learned what happened from— [Sound of a hologlyph
coming on.] OHHH! Doctor: Osefa herself. Or, rather, a quasi-hologlyph of her. Hologlyph Osefa:[Speaks unintelligibly] Oooook muumn ook? [Hiccup
sound.] Ook… What are you doing? BOOK? Cawdrey: No, it’s me, Cawdrey. Hologlyph Osefa:[In a blurry, unclear voice] What? Cawdrey: And the Doctor. Remember him? Hologlyph Osefa: Doctor? The Doctor? [Starts to weep.] Doctor:[Comfortingly] Shhh, shh. Shh. Yes, it’s me Osefa. Now, what
else can you remember?
am, quite literally, a walking dictionary. That is my function. Peri: To troll endlessly to accumulate words. BOOK: That’s the bulk of my work, yes, but it’s not all just armchair
lexicography. Sometimes we travel to other worlds beyond the usual
extension of my mental and projective capacities to collect those parts
of language overlooked or forgotten. Peri: Inactive vocabulary. BOOK: Indeed. The faculty provides special dispensation for my taking
these trips, under the professor’s supervision. Peri: And after you collect the words, what then? BOOK: Store all data in linguistic corpus. Identify discrete verbal
units. List pronunciation, definition, and contexts. Arrange into
families, demonstrating history and etymology. Uplink complete entry to
the lexicon. Peri: I meant, what happens after you’ve collected everything? Words
change all the time. New meanings, different people using them. You’ll
never be able to stop! BOOK: Have to keep going. Keep going. Go faster… faster than the speed
of meaning, faster than the meaning of the speed of meaning, always
ahead of the changing contexts, but I always keep coming back to the
same things. A word game without end. Peri: A game… BOOK: In which the only prize is another deferral of the entropy of
language in which, for all our efforts to work against
misunderstanding, there is always someone trying to jam the
communication of someone else. I must concede Warren’s point. I am, in
many ways, a slave to my work. That is my function. Peri: But are you happy? BOOK: I feel like I am meant for nothing else. Which was the case until
our most recent expedition… [VO of Osefa as BOOK recalls the past venture. The voice of Osefa is of
her hologlyph approximation so it seems she is telling her version of
the story to The Doctor and Cawdrey in Osefa’s office even as BOOK
recounts his version to Peri in his office.] Hologlyph Osefa: Sinocubus. A low technology planet in an unaspirated
section of the Articulate Systems. BOOK:[To Peri] An unremarkable world of unremembered words. Hologlyph Osefa:[Still in VO] While I administered his remote
projectors, BOOK went about the collection, reading, monitoring
frequencies, eavesdropping. [Sound of footsteps, then BOOK’s voice is heard over a communications
link to Hologlyph Osefa.] BOOK: Can’t I just talk to the people? Hologlyph Osefa: Well, you know the entries must arrive from as
objective a position as possible. An impartial hand, remember. BOOK: We can’t risk contaminating such a pristine language community
with our inadvertent neologisms. I know. Hologlyph Osefa: Interaction is quite out of the question. BOOK: But it’s fascinating! In this culture people believe that ‘In the
beginning was the Word.’ Or, rather, they don’t. Hologlyph Osefa: Some confusion of missionary linguistics and
theoretical astrophysics. BOOK: You’re telling me. They say, after the very beginning but before
the superheated-plasma of the early cosmos froze into the matter and
background radiation we have today, in that epoch, space itself was
dense enough to transmit sound. Hologlyph Osefa: If there’d been anyone around to hear it. BOOK: They say—imagine—patterns of energy left over from Event One
converted into chaotic sonic oscillation, developing over colossal
distances and hundreds of thousands of years, a soft rumbling building,
building to a deepening roar, striving towards
meaning! Hologlyph Osefa: Hmmm. The ‘birth cries of the universe?’ BOOK: They say. And of language. In space, you could have heard it
scream. Hologlyph Osefa:[VO resumes] It was a quite peculiar mythology. The
locals held that all language… BOOK: All of us. Hologlyph Osefa: …are merely echoes… BOOK: Derivations, corruptions. Hologlyph Osefa: …of that first, vast Word. Holding it up as sacred,
they pledged to keep alive its fragments, all that we’ve lost or
dismissed as archaic. The ideal site for research. [BOOK again addresses Hologlyph Osefa in a remembered exchange.] BOOK: I’ve collected right to the fringes of the culture. The ragged
edge. Literally. As far as language goes. And there… Hologlyph Osefa: For the want of better words… BOOK: Something collected… ME. [Flashback ends. Back in BOOK’s office.] Peri:[urgently] What, BOOK? What was it? BOOK: An… inexplicability.
What was it that BOOK encountered? Hologlyph Osefa: Something we haven’t yet explained. But we will.
[Hologlyph Osefa now degenerates in speech] BOOK? Where are you
BOOK?…ook..ummook…[Becomes unintelligible and then falls silent.] Doctor: We’ve learned all we can. [The hologlyph turns off.] Rest, old
friend. Cawdrey: Oof. I think I need to sit down. Doctor:[Thoughtfully, to himself.] The birth cries of the universe…
It’s okay BOOK. Take a moment. BOOK:[Makes a sound as of relief.] It feels good…to have said all
that. Peri: But it takes a lot out of you. My stepfather used to take me on
his expeditions, archeology trips, ecology assignments. Before we left
I’d go to the library at NYU and read up on the specialist
dictionaries, so I could impress him on the plane. And, yeah, it
worked. It was just the everyday words which always gave us trouble. BOOK:[Mostly to himself.] Good. No, different. Peri: Say, what’s the hologlyph equivalent of a glass of water?… Oh. I
could— BOOK:[Groans as if in pain.] Peri: No? [Clicks tongue] Words, words, words. It’s all about words.
It’s a shame we can’t just look up ‘inexplicability’ and… oh! I haven’t
even asked. How is someone supposed to use the dictionary? BOOK: A dictionarium literally means a collection
of dictions, of sayings. There is provision for conventional
alphabetized access, but Osefa intended the entries be primarily
accessible through spoken request. As Warren was keen to demonstrate. Peri: People come and ask for the words they’re after. BOOK: I’m not carted around by a fleet of lorries. The last few
centuries have seen the market flooded with many perfectly adequate, if
increasingly specialized texts. But our Lexicon is the only one to
preserve the sense of presence. The words alive. Peri: And this causes problems. Because you’re just one guy and, even
if you weren’t forgetting events, which is a whole other thing, surely
you’re too busy keeping the Lexicon up-to-date to handle requests. BOOK: The solution to that one was Osefa’s genius. Peri: Was? BOOK: An interface has been opened between the real world and the space
of the vocabulary. From this meeting-point the dictionary can be used
without the requirement of my intermediacy. Presenting the Lexisphere
to the conference would have been Osefa’s crowning career achievement. Peri: Osefa’s… not the issue right now. You met this
something-that-collected-you while you were actively collecting words,
right? BOOK: You imply that I entered the inexplicability into the Lexicon,
but it is impossible. By definition. Peri: Are you sure of that? Listen, we both need to get out of this
basement. Let’s say you take me to this Lexisphere.
rustle as The Doctor searches.] Cawdrey: We’ve been through all this material. Doctor: But now, Cawdrey, we work from a new understanding. New
context, new meanings. Cawdrey: Well, why didn’t we just ask her hologlyph who, er, what
happened? Doctor: It proved too difficult, I believe, for Osefa to face the
moment of her own death. Even English has its limits. But she must have
been trying to point us in the right direction. A cross-reference, a
footnote…[Papers continue to be searched] Anything might become useful.
Cawdrey: Oh, here’s her log from the Sinocubus trip. Doctor: Ah. We must commit ourselves to think with the same deductive
clarity that she was blessed to exhibit. Cawdrey: Approach this carefully, following ‘the pure logic of
semantics.’ I hosted her last book launch and wine-and-cheese affair. Doctor:[Reading the notes.] Ah! Here in the field trip notes. Several
times she uses the abbreviation L.T. Here: ‘Nearing a breakthrough in
LT’…‘Investigate LT mytho-poesis.’ Cawdrey:[Pondering] Hmm. Doctor: Of course! Ach! L.T.! Lexical transcendence! Cawdrey:[Aghast.] She never mentioned that on her
grant application! Doctor: Well, her notes mention it often enough. Look. Cawdrey: You-you mean to say that all this time she was using faculty—
and private— funding for something out of [sputters as if unable to
continue for disbelief]… recreational linguistics?! Doctor: Ohh— Cawdrey: Transcendentalism? Well, that’s lunatic fringe stuff! Not even
Warren would bother. Doctor: Oh, steady on. It was, after all her job to busy herself in
tracing the original. And that story she told. What exactly was it that
defied their consideration? [Slaps down notebook.] Perhaps there’s more
about this in the Lexicon. Cawdrey: Good luck trying to access it again. Doctor: Yes. Access… Cawdrey: I can’t credit any of this. One minute we’re talking about
Osefa’s analytical genius, the next she turns out to have abandoned her
professional responsibilities. Doctor: Well, as a professional, Osefa would have wanted to present her
researches. Being Osefa, she would have done so in
an idiosyncratic way. Not for her the exigencies of online catalogs. She’d
have created another, more dedicated access portal. Cawdrey: The Lexisphere! Doctor:[As if to say ‘you’ve got it.’] Ah.
Peri:[Her voice echoing in the vast space.] So…that’s the Lexisphere. Right?
BOOK: It is a particle accelerator for meaning. Speaking
metaphorically. It isolates words. Breaks them down into their
constituent morphemes, measures etymological attractions, and compares
quanta of signifigence. [The Lexisphere beeps and hums quietly in the background.] Peri:[With awed comprehension.] It’s your mind. People go in there—
the Lexisphere— into your memory. Oh, isn’t that weird? BOOK: I’ve… never thought of it like that. Until today I have never
entered this building by the front door. But now, yes, there is a sense
of… disconnection. Peri: More than simple absentmindedness. BOOK:[Dazedly] I—uh Peri: Maybe it is absentmindedness. Sorry. Go on. BOOK: Sections of vocabulary receive from easy access, a game of verbal
hide and seek, except before I can count to a hundred, the words for
the numbers have changed. Precision has come to mean impossibility. Peri: BOOK, I want to help you, but I need to understand. You’re saying
the Lexisphere siphons away part of yourself? BOOK: Which is its function. But it feels… wrong. Peri: There’s something else to this. It’s in there. In the Lexisphere.
A recent addition to the campus architecture oughtn’t be too difficult
to find. Cawdrey: No! I cannot grant you access to the Lexisphere! Doctor: Oh! Cawdrey: The conference has been disrupted enough. Doctor: Oh, Cawdrey, think! We know BOOK was with Osefa quite soon
before or possibly even during her death. Where, then would he be
likely to go than his own memory? In one sense it’s returning to the
scene of the crime. Cawdrey: Doctor! Doctor, you’re helping and I am indescribably grateful
for your assistance [The Doctor makes a surprised, pleased sound.] But
the official presentation of the Lexicon must and will remain the
conference closer! Doctor: Ending on something big?
strange rumbling is heard.] Peri: What is that?… BOOK?… [BOOK is nowhere to be seen.] Okay. I’ll
check for myself. [The rumbling intensifies as Peri goes through a door
and nears its source.] BOOK? Are you all right out there? BOOK: Ish. Peri: BOOK? [There is a clanking and a rush as the door closes.] BOOK!
BOOK! [She runs.] BOOK!!
Cawdrey: Doctor, please. It’s not just for the shareholders’ sakes.
This is Osefa’s work we’re talking about. Doctor: And she might not appreciate someone using it to satisfy their
own sense of academic theatrics. Man: Excuse me. Excuse me, what’s going on? We waited nearly an hour in
there. Cawdrey: We’ve met with a few difficulties. Nothing serious, I can
assure you. Man: Will proceedings resume at any time in the near future? Cawdrey: It won’t be long now.
[Rumbling continues.] Peri: Yelling over rumble. Distressed, almost paniced.] BOOK! Let me
out! Ish: Ish! Ishh! Ishh! Ishh! [The S’s and H’s hiss strangely.] Ish! Ish!
Main conference room
is a babble of irate voices.] Doctor: Listen, why don’t we all go back inside and I’ll tell you about
the time… Man: Enough of this endless deferral! We paid our registration fees.
Give us a real answer. Cawdrey: We’re attempting to do just that but it’s— [Cawdrey’s
communicator sounds.] Oh, excuse me. [Into device.] Hello? Ish: Ish! Cawdrey: Hello? Hello? [Makes disgusted noise and hangs up
communicator.] As I was trying to get across… Man: Ish! Doctor: Ish? Cawdrey: Doctor? Man: Ish! Doctor: Ish??
Another Man: Ish!
Conference Attendees:[First in scattered bursts, then converging into
a concerted chant] Ish! Ish! Ish! Ish…!
Who theme music plays.]
Issssh! Isssssh! [The Ish continue to hiss ish! with
almost a rattle at the end throughout the dialogue.] Peri: Let me out! [Banging on door. Door hisses open to reveal Warren.] Warren: Peri? [Sighs with relief on seeing her.] Is it just me or have
things turned pleonastic? Ish: Issh! Issh! Peri: What?… Warren, we’ve got to get out of here! Warren: Yes. Come on! Hurry while there’s still time. Ish: Issh! Issh! [The door opens and closes once again as Peri and Warren flee.]
Outer section of the Lexisphere.
Ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish,
ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish,
ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish….[He continues to drone this
without pause as others speak.] Peri: BOOK, what’s happened to you?! Warren: He’s finally become the mindless drone the faculty want him to
be. Peri: BOOK? Warren: Uh, Peri… BOOK: Ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ish… Peri: BOOK?…He’s helpless! [BOOK’s drone of ish becomes faster and faster.] Warren: He’s lost it! Let’s get going! BOOK:[The drone gets faster still, and higher until it comes one long
Ish, ish, ish, ish, ish, ishishishshishishishishishishshishishishishishishshishishish…!
Main conference room
Ish. Doctor: Really. Ish. Oh, do you think so? Cawdrey: They’re all doing it! Everyone’s turned into blithering
Another Man: Ish. Cawdrey: Oh, not you as well. That’s Sub-dean Archibald Kant! I have to
call security. Doctor: Uh, that is perhaps, on reflection, not our best option,
Cawdrey. Now, this was started by somebody or something or some other
some-cognate saying ‘ish’ over the phone. Cawdrey: I think… it was BOOK’s voice. Doctor: What is he, dial-a-definition? Cawdrey: He can project to any point on campus, and… I’m implying
myself to an early grave! Doctor: Let’s try and keep thinking this through. Imitative dysprasia,
I’d suggest through observing, a kind of loggorihic catalepsy. Cawdrey:[Annoyed.] In words of more than one syllable, please, Doctor.
Doctor: A sort of — Man: Ish! Doctor: It’s almost as if — Man: Ish! Doctor:[To man] Well, listen, can you hear me? Can you understand what
I’m saying? Man: Ish! Doctor: What is making you say that? Is there something blocking your
speech centers? Can you think clearly? Man: Ish, ish, ish... [Wanders away.] Doctor: And with that witty repost, off he goes. Who knows how many
more are like this? If BOOK can project to anywhere he likes, perhaps
the whole campus is affected. Ooh, go ahead and use your phone then,
Cawdrey. Find out who it has left to call. Cawdrey: What ish it— it are you talking about? The what the hell is
it? Doctor: Yes. And why are we still gifted with
voice and thought? Any ideas? Cawdrey: I’ve heard of infectious agents triggered by pattern
recognition of a design or a particular color. A word could have the
same effect. Doctor: Yes, but this has crossed too many species lines too rapidly
for a biological vector. Cawdrey: Then something technological. The more recent definition of a
virus. Doctor: Also responsible for the corruption in the systems? Cawdrey: With Warren’s sticky fingerprints all over it! I thought he’d
get up to some antics, as per usual, but this… Doctor: You don’t think he’s up to it? Cawdrey: It’s worse than anything he’s done before. Warren’s only ever
challenged the idea of linguistic structure and study. But if he found
a way to take it further… yes, he would do it. He
doesn’t care about anything.
Outside the Lexisphere
Peri and Warren are gasping with the effort of running.] Warren: Yes! That was great!! Peri: Great! Warren: Ha, ha, ha! Peri:[With uncertain enthusiasm.] Great… Wait… Great!! Warren: I never felt so real before! In the
Lexisphere it was like— I— I don’t know what!! [Becoming inarticulate
with joy.] Like nothing I’ve ever felt before! Or something I’ve always
needed to! Wooo-hoo-hoo-hoo!!!! Yes!!!!!! Peri: Warren, you were only in the Lexisphere a few seconds. Let me
tell you, it’s not something you want to repeat. Warren: Peri, listen. I like words. Of course I’m not going to pass up
the chance to try out the latest lexicon. Peri: It’s dangerous! There was something in there… a, uh, presence!
Warren: Yes. That’s it. A Prescience. I’m sorry, I’ve just got to find
out. Peri: You saw… you heard BOOK. Something’s done something to him
already. Let’s— let’s just find The Doctor. He’ll know what to make of
all this. Warren: The Doctor. Okay. Where is he then? Peri: W-well, last I saw, he was with the Symposiarch, Robert Cawdrey. Warren:[With incredulous disdain.] Bob? I think I’ll take my chances…
[Starts to exclaim and laugh with hysterical delight as he runs back
towards the Lexisphere.] Woo-hoo! Waa-ha-ha! Peri: Warren? Warren! Oh…
The note was discovered among the professor’s effects shortly after her
death… Shortly before that...event, I read what she had written. Saw
what she had been driven to. Hologlyph Osefah: Forgive me [Static] Forgive me…a…[Static] construct
some meaning [Static.] from these notes. [Static] couldn’t go on
[Static] Words cannot be killed. [Static] We defy our ignorance.
[Static] Let me finish. [Static] Let me finish… BOOK: And when I had read the note, I began to correct it. What else
could I do? Hologlyph Osefah: Forgive me a brief indulgence, those of you gathered
here whom I am not merely obliged but please to acknowledge before I
attempt to construct some meaning from these chaotic notes. Pause for
laughter. I couldn’t go on without thanking my colleagues in the
faculty, the assembled syndics, etcetera, etcetera as listed. First
anecdote. Ours would be the complete lexicon but our ancestors they
lacked the technology of continual expansion, the limitations of the
collecting media required lexicographers to make room for more entries
by removing old ones. They became word-killers. But words cannot be
killed, gentlemen. Make no mistake. We defy their ignorance.
[Chuckles.] No, no, no, let me finish. BOOK: …and corrected it. Hologlyph Osefah: Forgive me a [Static.] Forgive me a brief [Static]
Construct some meaning from these [Static] Forgive me a [Static.] BOOK: …and corrected it. Hologlyph Osefah: Make no mistake…[Static] chaotic notes…[Static] I
couldn’t go on [Static] Let me finish. [Static] Let me finish. Let me
finish. [Chuckles. A few more words are spoken but they are lost in a
long burst of static.]
Main conference room
In here. [Herds conference attendees into the lecture hall.] At least
we know what to do with you all. Man: Ish Doctor: You know, I’d never have guessed. [A communicator sounds. With
a sigh, The Doctor answers it.] Cawdrey? Have you found anyone
unaffected yet? Cawdrey: No one! Not in the libraries, nor the other faculties. Blanket
catatonia! Student dormitories are even worse. Well, that’s to be
expected, I suppose. Doctor: Do you think we might require outside assistance yet? Cawdrey: I can’t get a good outside line. Too much interference in the
network. I got through long enough to let them know about the — the
affliction, but I believe the operator thought I was… affected as well.
Doctor: So it’s not spread beyond campus yet. Good. We’ll just have to
handle this ourselves. Cawdrey:[Incredulous] The two of us? We can’t provide medical
attention to all of them! Doctor: No, but I don’t think need concern ourselves unduly in that
department. It’s a purely mental breakdown. Sit the attendees
comfortably and they’re fine. Although how long we have until neural
atrophy sets in, I cannot say. Cawdrey: I think I know how they feel. Doctor: It targets the language centers of the brain…or brains or brain
equivalents. The key word unlocking some atavistic, pre-linguistic
response?… No. That explanation went out with— Cawdrey: Doctor, this insanity is spreading!
Cawdrey:[Still on the communicator with The Doctor.] I’m just leaving
the library. Pages of textbooks are spilling out over the floor. [A
crash] Oh! Covered in nonsense verse! The translation systems have
begun talking in tongues, and the attendee register for the conference,
which I personally checked three times, has—has [almost unable to speak
for horror] typos!!! [Back on The Doctor’s end of the communicator. The attendees continue
to mutter in the background.] Doctor: Stay calm! Linguistics is a science. Let’s approach this
rationally. Cawdrey: A good thing the delegates are like this really. If Lord
Launty saw that he’d become quite apoplectic. Doctor: Cawdrey, focus. Cawdrey: We still have a dead body to deal with. [There is the sound of
books thumping to the floor at rapid, irregular intervals.] How do we
fit that into our rational explanation? Doctor: I don’t know. Review the materials. Ascertain their meaning.
It’s quite straightforward. [Back in the library, still with books tumbling frequently.] Cawdrey: Is it? I’ve got Osefah’s note with me here. Doctor: What about it? Cawdrey: It’s changing! The words are shifting around the page; the
punctuation marks are flipping back and forth like some kind of —, I
don’t know, illogic diagram? Doctor: It’s mocking us. We’re up against a far more formidable
adversary than I thought, Cawdrey. Continue searching for anyone or
anything not yet affected. Warren, BOOK… [suddenly seeing Peri enter.]
Peri! I have to go, Cawdrey. [He hangs up and clunks down the phone.] Peri: Doctor! Doctor: She sells seashells by the sea shore. Peri: Uh, sure. She sells shells, but seashells? I’m not so sure. Doctor: Humor. An excellent defense mechanism. Hello, Peri. I’m pleased
to see your language faculties haven’t given up the gist.
Peri: Like these poor people. Doctor: I resisted infection, naturally. Could some of my innate
ability to resist have rubbed off on you? Peri:[Snorts as if to say ‘are you kidding me?’ then turns to the
attendees.] What’s happened to these guys? Can’t we do something for
them? Doctor: Not until we know exactly what we’re up against. But have a
listen, see what you think. [Opens door to main conference room.] Attendees:[in scattered gabbling] ish, ish, ish, ish… Peri: All they can say is ish. [The Doctor closes
the door again.] Doctor: Were you ever struck, out of the blue, to wonder why you use a
particular word to mean whatever it happens to mean? I’m sure you know
your grammar, understand the processes by which language operates and
evolves, but none of that ever quite explains why
that word fits that thing. Peri: It gets to irritate you after a while and you start repeating the
word in your head… Doctor: Or out loud Peri: Trying to puzzle out the meaning, like there must be more to it. Doctor: And what happens? Peri: It’s strange. As you repeat it y-you seem to get farther away
from understanding the word it starts not to mean anything at all. It
becomes just sounds. Babble. Doctor: Yes. Something is causing these people to do just that. Repeat
without meaning. They’ve lost any distinction between sound pattern and
signification. Without those basics of language their minds are unable
to cope and simply switch off. [Pause. The attendees can still be heard babbling ish
from the next room.] Peri: That’s horrible. Doctor: Let’s get some fresh air.
Ish… ish… ish? Osefah? She keeps coming back to the same thing… in my
head… in my head… Osefah… Warren:[Very muffled and distant through the heavy door.] No, BOOK,
it’s me, Warren. Warren. BOOK:[To himself] There are more obscure usages of ish. One, a verb,
signifies to make an egress or departure from or to clear out a place,
hence ishing is synonymous with issuing, as in ishing out of. Warren:[Still muffled.] Get a hold out yourself. I need you to help me
with the Lexisphere. BOOK:[Still unheeding of Warren] For example… [Dematerializes.] Warren: I think there’s a word for what I’m feeling at the moment…
outside the conference building
That is how this thing is spreading, through whatever it can find:
spoken, written, otherwise recorded. Through language. Destroying it in
the process. Peri: But why ‘ish?’ Does it mean anything? Doctor: Well, etymologically speaking, that babble is an insufferable
susurration of suffixes. Ah, perhaps it doesn’t matter what they’re
saying but rather what they can’t. Just imagine it
— a lifetime of vocabulary, of rich and complex significance whittled
away without you even knowing it. Peri: Listen, Doctor. What if we went
back to the— the [as if unable to locate the word wanted.] tuh Doctor: No, leave that blue box, or whatever it might be, alone. We
have work to do. Peri: The students on the lawn! [Points] It’s like a nightmare. It’s
like what happened to BOOK. Just like what happened
to BOOK. Doctor: BOOK? You’ve met him? Peri: He’s in trouble! Well, Warren went back to the Lexisphere, but I
don’t think it was to help. Doctor: Warren! Why didn’t you say so? [Sighs in exasperation.] It’s
what not being said that matters.
Cawdrey: Warren. BOOK. Uh, Warren. BOOK. [Spotting Warren.] Warren! Ah!
Warren:[Uncertainly] Hi, then. Cawdrey: Hello. Um. How are you? Warren: You know. [Very quietly goes on] Ish. [In a normal tone.] I’m
all right. Cawdrey: What? Warren: Fine. Cawdrey: Oh. [Pause. Then stuttering, tripping over his words.] Do you
still like c-c-cryptograms? T-the other day I-I came across some
interesting— Warren: Uh, I-I was just on my way, so… I’ll be off then, yeah? Cawdrey: Yes. Yes, of course. Take care. Warren: Yeah. See you later
back outside the conference center.
He wouldn’t listen. Said he felt something. I just felt like getting
out of there as fast as possible. Doctor: I don’t blame you. From what you’ve told me— [breaks off, then
continues] Do you hear that Peri? [She harkens silently a moment. There is no sound.] Peri: There isn’t any… birdsong. Doctor: But you were right. There wasn’t any a moment ago. I said it
was spreading through all languages, but the buildings are still
standing and architecture is a language of sorts, as are clothing and
gesture. Even reality is a form of discourse. Peri: But the sparrows? Doctor: It’s attempted to take them over. But only some ways of
communicating suit its purposes. Or porpoises. Dolphins have a language
too, you know. Peri:[Slightly exasperated] Doctor! Doctor: I’m trying to think about the appropriate metaphor. What if we
were to— yes! Stop seeing the university as a place.
Peri: O-kaay… Doctor: No, try! Instead, imagine the campus as a
book. The main text, the conference, is somehow more relative the
situation than the illustrative and background details, like the
sparrows. Peri: What kind of text are we imagining? Doctor: A multi-lingual phrasebook. This
whatever-it-is-we’re-dealing-with is leafing through the book of the
campus. [Thoughtfully] Looking for something specific. But what if the
entry sought is larger than the dictionary itself? Peri: How can something be bigger than it is… [realizes what she is
saying] on the inside… This is all about the inexplicability BOOK found
on that planet, isn’t it? Doctor: I believe it is. The details, BOOK and Osefah’s stories, that
rumble you heard, everything resonates with the legends of lexical
[Sound of a hologlyph coming on] BOOK: What’s another word for…? [Another hologlyph activates beside BOOK.] Hologlyph Osefah: Ah, BOOK. There you are. BOOK: Osefah! Hologlyph Osefah: I can’t for the life of me find my lecture notes and
what’s this nonsense you’ve got here? This isn’t the preamble I asked
you to check! BOOK: I ran through it but then— [realizes what he is seeing] Osefah!
Is it really you? Hologlyph Osefah: Oh, never mind, I’ll just have to skip that part.
Now, where was I? [Pause] Ah, this is a good bit. ‘A transcendental
number such as pi can only be approximated since it is impossible to
write down as a finite or repeating sequence of digits. What, then,
could we consider a transcendental word? How might we start to
approximate it?’ BOOK:[Pained and disappointed.] You’re not her. You’re not Osefah… Peri:
Lexical transcendentalism? Doctor: The study of and necessarily the search for the mythical
longest word in the cosmos. Peri: So what? Doctor: So indeed, Peri. So is
a very short word, but the dictionary provides for it dozens of
distinct meanings, where as a much longer word like honorificabilitudinitatibus… Peri: … Not so many. Doctor: Well, I can only think of three, offhand. The argument goes
that the longer a word, the less often that word is used and therefore
the more precisely focused its range of meanings. Are you with me? Peri: So-so. Doctor: Well, extend the length of the word to infinity, as the
transcendentalists theorize, and, well, no one knows
what it means. Peri:[melodramatically] Say it ain’t so! Doctor: Peri, this is serious. Peri: So sorry. Doctor:[Jokingly grave] Don’t be such a so-and-so. [Goes on] Most
likely, the longest word, which is known by the ostentatiously Latinate
name of the Omniverbum, exists as a sort of singularity of
significance. In its presence, meaning itself would warp and collapse. Peri: And let me guess, no one who’s found the Omniverbum has ever
lived to tell of it. Doctor: I’m not saying no. Peri: But… almost by accident, that’s what BOOK and Osefah did! They
found the longest word and all this craziness is the result. That is,
assuming I get you right and this thing is alive? Doctor: Alive. Waiting to be revived. Does it matter? Umm. I-I can’t
shake the feeling we’re dealing with something different. Perhaps not
the Omniverbum itself, but part of it? An echo, a surviving fragment?
An ish, shall we say? Peri: There’s Cawdrey! [Cawdrey hurries up to them, gasping between words with exertion.] Cawdrey: Peri! Doctor! You’re both still all right? Peri: So to speak. Doctor:[To Cawdrey] Did you find anybody else? Peri: Uh, no. Uh, no one at all. [Laughs nervously.] Doctor: Then this is how it’s going to be. Peri, I think you may be
onto something… and we have a name for our adversary now. That always
helps. Cawdrey: A name? Peri: The Ish. Doctor: And we shall know this word by the company it keeps. [To Peri]
I want you to accompany the Symposiarch back to the Lexisphere and then
have him show you how to shut it down. Peri: Okay. Cawdrey:[Outraged] Now hold on a minute! Doctor: Cawdrey, it’s long past time for protests. The Lexisphere is
merely another way for the Ish to wreak havoc and we cannot give our
interloping interlocutor any advantages. But take these. [Removes two
small devices from his pocket.] Cawdrey: Another device? Peri: Transgalactic Babelmasters. Cawdrey: Huh? Peri: Don’t ask me how I know. Doctor: The earpiece fits [fits the ‘earbuds’ in Peri’s ears] like
that, yes. Peri, I usually disapprove of censorship but— Cawdrey:[Still angry] What’s this in aid of? Doctor: Well, we can’t guarantee our immunity against [hesitates] the
problem we’re facing… will last. The earpieces will filter out any
instances of you-know-what that attempt to assail you and provoke
repetition. Peri: You mean, if we try to say * [A beep is heard.] Oh! Doctor: Good. Now, on your way. Peri: But where are you going? Doctor: I’ve got another booking…
main conference room
Attendees:[In random, scattered babbling] Ish. Ish. Ish. [Sound of a hologlyph appearing] Hologlyph Osefah:[Softly to herself] Project. [Clears throat noisily]
Good evening. Shall we get things underway?
[The computers hum and beep quietly throughout the scene.] Peri: Okay, how do we work these computers, Cawdrey? Cawdrey:[Distracted] What? Peri: Shutting down the Lexisphere. How do we do it? To stop the *! Cawdrey: How can a word be alive in any case? It’s silly! Peri:[Exasperated] Oh, what are you asking? How can a word be
meaningful? How can it affect other living things in the world around
it? Listen, I don’t understand it either, but if The Doctor said so
then— Cawdrey: Words are my life! My entire working life! I trade in words.
They made my fortune and never, not once, did one
leap off a page and hijack my brain! Peri: Bob, forget all that, okay? Help me with these. Cawdrey: Oh. Peri:[Makes a disgusted sound.] Oh, I’ll do it myself. [There is the sound of banging and rattling as Peri removes some
panels. Then there is the sizzle of released electricity.] Peri: Oww!!! Cawdrey: Peri! Peri:[Pants] There. [Cawdrey draws near to examine the exposed
equipment.] No! No, we shouldn’t look! Cawdrey: On the monitor… Words shifting… into new words. The same word
again and again… Peri: Don’t look! Cawdrey: Uh? Oh! [Breaks away from his dreamy speech as if shaking off
a force.] Oh. Peri: We’re protected against hearing the *, but we haven’t got a
device to block out our vision. Cawdrey:[Still gasping as if recovering from a blow] Yes. Thank you.
Thank you, Peri. Peri:[Sighs] You don’t have to believe it’s alive, but it is
trying to stop us. Cawdrey: The *? But we’ve not been affected. We’re still unaffected.
Peri: Not for the first time I’m wondering why that actually is.
Why, Osefah. That’s what I still cannot understand about this whole
misadventure. Yours was a command of the language, an appreciation of
its depths like no other. Why wasn’t that enough? What drew you to the
Omniverbum? BOOK: How could you complete the Lexicon without it? Doctor:[Surprised] BOOK? [Pause] I’m the Doctor. BOOK: We haven’t met in person. But then, how could we? Immaterial and
material hands do not shake, but I recognize you nonetheless. I have
met your words before… Doctor: I suspected that you would return here. Like tracing the
etymology of a word, you came back. Back to where it really all
started. The scene of the sign. BOOK: She held no truck with the principal that we should define an
entry using other words simpler than itself. ‘A concession to
generality makes too great a sacrifice of eloquence. When we find a
word that goes beyond our description, BOOK, we will have discovered
the soul of the language, worth preserving simply because it exists.’
[Pause.] I miss her. Very much. Doctor: BOOK, we have gone beyond description today. Can you help us
work out what the Ish means? What did you an Osefah learn about the
Omniverbum? BOOK: Omniverbum? Nothing. Instead of the original and ultimate word,
all we uncovered was the hollowness behind language itself. [The door creaks open and Warren enters, laughing with evil sarcasm.] Warren: Except the professor learned that just a little too late, yes? BOOK:[To the air] Osefah. Osefah. Ish. Doctor: BOOK? W-what does he mean? BOOK? [For answer, BOOK begins a playback of a past meeting with Osefah] BOOK: … a clitic suffix creating adjectival forms and subjoined— Hologlyph Osefah:[Annoyed, cutting across his words] Please, BOOK, I’m
trying to… BOOK: to form a noun— Hologlyph Osefah:[Huffs] Off! [Sound of BOOK deactivating.] Hologlyph Osefah:[Sighs.] Time to work. No time at all. Oh, I told
BOOK to check this. Right, I must do it myself. Yes. Fine. Oh, for
crying out loud! Such an obvious…! [Sighs again.] I really am working
too hard. Let me think. What’s another word for… [The playback clicks ahead to another scene, later, but still in the
past.] BOOK: Ish. Hologlyph Osefah: Be quiet, BOOK. BOOK: Ish. Hologlyph Osefah: I am trying to work. Please, if you do not shut up,
then I shall— M-my-my notes! H-have you done something? [Starts to
sound panicked] BOOK? [She starts to weep as she turns over the pages
in her hands and sees devastation.] The research! T-the notes! It is
ruined!! I-is it all ruined?? [Horrified pause] I can’t tell. [Back in the present] BOOK: No more descriptions. Doctor: Ah, we’ve heard enough. Osefah committed suicide after all.
Rather than face that specific nightmare of the lexicographer, utter
meaninglessness. Warren:[Snidely] And the suicide note wrote itself? Convenient. Doctor:[With a fed-up huff] Warren, is it? Oh, what do you want? Warren: No one understands. Osefah didn’t. BOOK doesn’t. You certainly
don’t. But it’s obvious. [Fake-sweetly] Isn’t it completely obvious?
The Ish—top marks for naming your adversaries, by the way, Doctor— the
Ish isn’t something to mope about and kill yourself over. It’s the
future. [Dropping to a crazed whisper] It’s something to live!!
Cawdrey: The * has left us alone. [Peri types as he speaks.] Peri: Cawdrey. Come on, you know these machines. You wouldn’t invest in
something you hadn’t any knowledge about. Cawdrey: Ha! Peri: Oh, but it’s true, isn’t it? If you could get into the wiring and
cut off the— [clunk] No, these panels don’t come away! Cawdrey: Don’t you w* sometimes you could go back and undo your
mistakes? Spell-check your life? Peri: Look, what if you closed you eyes and-and, even without the words
in the right place, you know how these controls should be laid out.
[Raising her voice for force] You can still try, can’t you? Cawdrey: Instead of admon*ment, and *fic *tushing, w-we could have gone
f*ing and then had a Swed* meal! Peri: Oh, you’re a great help, you know that? Cawdrey: s*kabob, or kit*kus and all that k*kabbible…m* mash! [Becoming
panicked] Peri, I d-don’t know half these words!…Holidays to *kinoff
and-and *napore and an indi*nity with the b*num [He speaks faster and
faster and his words degenerate into babble] unless Kr*ner and V*ner
are more suff*ently aud*ned!! **Aggh! Peri: Cawdrey! Calm down! Cawdrey:[Gives a sob] Peri: And from now on let’s just not use any words with that particular
syllable in them. Cawdrey: Yes. Y-yes, you’re q-quite right. Peri:[Sighs.] Now. [Laugh-sniffles, then starts the beginnings of a
sneeze] Ah-ah-ah… Cawdrey: Oh, here, have a hanky. Peri:[Gasps] Thanks. [Blows nose loudly.] Oh. Cawdrey:[Nervously.] We have to stay calm. Concentrate. We. Are not.
Affected. Peri:[Sneezes] At*hoo!
In Osefah’s office
Well, that’s your dream? Everyone succumbing to the Ish? Warren: Not ‘succumbing to,’ ‘playing with.’ Words playing games with us.
We won’t need faculties or universities or Articulate Worlds any
longer. No more, ‘write it this way.’ The end of the stranglehold of
certainty. Doctor: No more bedtime stories? No more poetry? No one able to speak
to another! Words never spoken, only ever repeated? Warren: Free-flowing dissemination of meaning! Unlimited semiosis!! Doctor:[Snort of derision] Oh, and how do you propose to achieve that?
[Accusingly] BOOK, are you helping him? BOOK: I… Ish. I… Warren: BOOK’s enabled the Ish to occupy the mental spaces of this
campus, but we’re going to spread it further. [Becoming maniacal] Much
further! A thousand projections! Everyone can have a pocket lexicon. Doctor: There’ll be no pocket books after the verbal economy collapses.
Warren: But who will care?! Eventually, everyone gives in to the Ish.
[The Doctor makes a pained sound, but Warren goes on.] No matter what
else you’ve put in their ear. Doctor: What?… Peri! Warren:[Coldly] Your devices won’t make any difference. Every
dictionary ever written was a monster. A monument. An authority at the
center of its linguistic empire. But now the colonials are speaking
their own language. Doctor: Their own language? Well, if you consider ‘ish ish ish’ some
new variation of sparkling after-dinner repartee, you’re as senseless
as the Ish itself! Warren: Peri was right; you talk too much. Doctor: Oh! Warren: Come on BOOK, we’ve got a speaking tour to conduct on the
subject of ‘Making Conditions Conducive to the Ish.’ And, after that… Doctor: The Omniverbum? You insane, stupid boy! Warren:[Laughs insanely] Doctor: Don’t you have the faintest comprehension of what’s at stake
here? Warren: Yes. A lexicographer’s lackey is going to bring about the
disarticulation of all language! [Gives an even more villainous laugh]
But can’t you appreciate the irony? [Laughs some more.]
Episode music plays
[Opening music plays]
OSEFAH!!!! [Sound of a hologlyph coming on. Hologlyph Osefah appears mid-sentence
just as she had been speaking at the podium.] Hologlyph Osefah: …and I would also like to thank — [startled] Oh!
BOOK! Warren: Professor Osefah! Oh I’ve so looked forward to meeting you for
such a long time. The Ish… [His voice fades to a murmur with distance
as we move to where BOOK and The Doctor are standing.] Doctor:[Quietly] While he’s distracted, BOOK, this way, quick! [They hurry to the door and start to slip out. Warren breaks off and
calls after them as the door shuts.] Warren: It’s okay, Doctor. Run! Hide! You can’t escape the Ish. There’s
nowhere outside language to go.
In a computer lab
rumble of the Ish is heard.] Doctor:[Calling distantly] BOOK? BOOK: Pages. Doctor:[still distant] BOOK? BOOK: Open. Doctor:[Coming to the doorway of the room where BOOK is] hoh! BOOK:[Quickly] I apologize. Doctor: No, let’s continue. Office. BOOK: Space. Doctor: Word. BOOK: For word. Doctor: Ish. BOOK: Difficult. Doctor: Peri. BOOK: Pathetic? Doctor: You’re sane. Enough of that, I think… No, no — Doctor. BOOK: Verbose. Doctor: You’ve spent too much time talking with Peri. Now, let me see.
[Starts to work at the computers.] Nothing. No use. [Suddenly] Don’t
try dematerializing, BOOK. We can’t risk losing you. Oh…[He clatters
around] BOOK: Second drawer on the left. Doctor:[Opening it] Your remote projectors. [Saddened pause.] I
apologize. You do understand. Warren needs them for his plan. [He
starts smashing up the projectors against the edge of the desk. Bits
fly off and clatter to the floor.] Now, acts of wanton violence to
valuable technology have never been my bent. Still, [Finishes
destroying the projectors.] now Warren won’t be
spreading discord imminently. BOOK: Strange that he requires my assistance to
unleash this presence further afield. He’s done a fairly adequate job
already. Doctor: You make a good point. I think in Warren’s case it’s the
significance of your helping spread the Ish that
matters. BOOK: And how long can we last before he, well, it,
breaks down our defenses? Doctor: Yes. Defenses. Tell me, isn’t it the case that so long as
you’re able to concentrate you’re able to maintain some semblance of a
level head? If you avoid direct contact with… the word in question. BOOK: A design feature. It was considered necessary that I be able to
disassociate myself from the vocabulary during periods of downtime, to
position myself at somewhat of an odd angle to the language. Doctor: Giving you, under normal circumstances, an alternative means of
approaching the task of definition. BOOK: I have maintained this askew perspective by reminding myself of
the different meanings and contexts of the word ‘ish.’ To ish from…
bullets isshing overhead… Doctor: Never repeating the same word, because it never means the same
thing. That’s very good! But surely there can’t be many more obscure
definitions remaining. BOOK: There is ‘ishes.’ In regional British dialect, it means ‘hips.’
But what of yourself, Doctor? Doctor: Oh, my vocabulary is suitably immune to wandering suffixes, but
we can’t say the same for Peri, I’m afraid. I only hope she manages to
close off the Lexisphere before it’s too late. BOOK: ‘I only hope?’ Doctor: Yes? BOOK: Is that, strictly speaking, grammatically appropriate? Doctor: I think so. Yes. BOOK: Um, I just wondered. For a moment. Doctor:[Makes a sort of puzzled sound, unsure what BOOK is getting
Peri:[Frustrated] Okay, we’re *ed. Ug, I’m fed up with this ear thing.
[There is a short devolving whine as she removes it and it turns off.]
We’re ished. We we’re before we put these things
on! I don’t know. Maybe we were repeating ‘ish’ in our heads without
even realizing. Cawdrey: ‘On the Unconscious as Structured as a Language.’ Peri: What? Cawdrey: Uh, a lecture we had scheduled. Sorry, my knowledge of these
things is sorely lacking. Peri: It’s only a matter of time before we end up like your attendees.
[A note of dread creeps into her voice] Unable to communicate at all! Cawdrey: What’s the past tense of ‘to ish?’ Is that— Peri: Cawdrey! Cawdrey: W-what’s Warren doing in all this? He’s meant to be
lang-ish-ing in youth detention. Must have got out on parole. Peri: Cawdrey!! Cawdrey: No. You’re quite right. We haven’t got long. Which is why I
have to tell you everything. About Warren…
We have a word. A self-replicating packet of information spreading
indiscriminately through the campus, assisted by alleged logophiliac
Warren. But is it assisting him?
BOOK: Aren’t their intentions the same? To destroy language? To leave
nowhere where communication is possible? Doctor: ‘There’s nowhere outside language to run.’ [Quotes something in
French.] Warren was supremely confident in that little snippet of
linguistic theory, but it’s literally true. The Ish has remained on
campus, inside what I described as a text. BOOK: Within the limits of my projection. Doctor: Or the boundaries of the area in which the word is interested.
It might easily have induced an attendee to wander off the grounds and
from there take on the universe. No. Whatever the Ish wants is here on
campus. BOOK: Me. Doctor: BOOK. The Lexicon. BOOK:[Sadly] All we wanted was to preserve the language, to compile
the most comprehensive dictionary in existence. Doctor: Expand your word power and impress your friends in thirty days
or less? BOOK: I sound so proud. So arrogant. Perhaps it is too ponderous a task
for anyone to attempt. Perhaps I’m just not very good at
‘authoritative, unabridged.’ Make your own joke. Doctor: Can you blame yourself for what’s happened? It’s of your nature
to be a lexicon. Just as it is an ineluctable fact that all of us use
language. The Ish simply takes advantage, takes what it
wants. BOOK:[Angry at himself] If I hadn’t collected it…! Doctor: You did no wrong in assembling the dictionary. But in the end
it’s rewriting it that will make a difference. BOOK: I have a billion lexical units at my disposal. Doctor: Then let’s get on with it.
computer hums and beeps softly in the background.] Cawdrey: The Lexicon team set out to all record the words used by all
peoples. It’s an old question but, who lists the words linguists use? Peri: Word-lovers. Logophiles. Cawdrey: In other words, Warren.
Hologlyph Osefah: I must deliver my speech. There is still time. Warren: The Ish is the natural conclusion to your work, you understand
professor? Freed from the prison of definitiveness. Free to mean
whatever it wants to mean. It’s power and it’s resistance
to power and it’s the end of the epoch of the book! Moving towards a
new moment of unfettered linguistic play! Hologlyph Osefah: Ah! Are you done now? Warren:[Happily] I am. Yes! Hologlyph Osefah: Are you ready to know what you really mean?
Warren’s a… hologlyph! Like BOOK! Cawdrey: A far more advanced model than BOOK. The best I could haggle
for. Warren has all the latest corrections, additions, improvements.
He’s an appendix. Peri: Doesn’t he realize? Cawdrey: On some level. Maybe subconsciously. Peri: Well, but he’s solid; he acts human. Cawdrey: I remember doing the programming myself. [Pauses] Can you hear
that? [There is a twilling sound] Peri: Yes. You made Warren so that he wouldn’t seem like a hologlyph! Cawdrey: It would rather give the game away if he were to start
dematerializing at will. Peri: Give the game away? Cawdrey: He’s connected to the Lexisphere. To BOOK’s lexicon. The
language of which he- he studies, gathers, lives off. [Laughs
nervously] It breaks all kinds of guidelines about research ownership. Peri: You’re saying that Warren’s interish [makes annoyed sound] interest
in words led him to various language fests and conferences. Where he
absorbed the language used. Cawdrey: And, I must admit, giving our competitors efforts more than a
few stumpers to contend with. He’s too sucsishful—suc-sess-ful—you see.
Funny, isn’t it? I know barely enough about hologlyphic technology to
explain it to you now and I’ve created the creature who today presents
the most voracious difficulty to language itself. Peri:[With sudden comprehension] He wants it all. All the words! Not
just the ones he was intended to study. Cawdrey: I did contribute to the Lexicon. Sort of a ghostwriter. I was
going to tell the professor. Really I was! Peri: But when you found out what Warren was capable of, you kept it
quiet, not even telling Warren what he is. Cawdrey: I’ve supported him. Made sure the right words went in his
direction. Kept him as much out of trouble as I’m capable. [Continues
bitterly] Not that he reciprocates in any way. He’s far too fond of his
word-buster identity. Peri: All this just to get some security on your investment! Disheiving—deceiving
all these people. Stealing their work! [She starts to breathe with some
distress.] Cawdrey: Peri? Peri, you haven’t given in? Peri:[Almost yells] Perish the thought!! There’s no time for blame.
Oh, why didn’t you tell us all this sooner? Cawdrey: Afraid, I suppose. My real work, the Symposium, it’s in
tatters. I wanted to keep something for myself. Deferring the
inevitable. Peri: But if Warren’s linked to the Lexisphere… Cawdrey: The Ish can use him just as it has BOOK. More so, since he
doesn’t know the full extent of his abilities. Peri: This is why we came here. Why we have to shut this place down! Cawdrey: Then… let’s get to work. [He begins working at the nearest
Hologlyph Osefah: Another delay! Goodness me, always delays, deferral,
disconnection. Ah! I am starting to appreciate what is going on here.
Looking out at your empty faces, the full significance of the thing
eludes me yet, but it makes what I had written for this occasion
spectacularly irrelevant. Instead of a speech, I’m going to tell you a
story. It concerns a friend of mine. Someone about whom I have had
ample time and due occasion to consider, a man whose love of language
has never gone unrequited.
in a building on campus.
Doctor:[Opening a door to enter] Where did the Ish originate? Near, or perhaps
within a singularity of meaning? Itself somehow maintained eons after
creation in a culture that worshiped language. BOOK: The Omniverbum was the extent of their pantheon. They held words
up as sacred and the longest word most of all. Doctor: But how is it the longest word still? Three hundred thousand
years of plasma oscillations is a long time. But it was also a long
time ago… BOOK: There were some among that culture that believed that the
universe had never stopped pronouncing the Omniverbum. Doctor: With an implausibly long series of silent consonants? BOOK: They say, perhaps, it is spoken yet and will only end with the
death of its speaker. Doctor: Oh, never mind the mythologizing. We can imagine the
Omniverbum, or the idea of it, as a linguistic nexus, drawing in other
terms. BOOK: And that is where the Ish originated? Doctor: Where the Ish… fed. Until you inadvertently granted it access
to a whole new swathe of wordstock to consume. [The Doctor and BOOK pass through another door.] BOOK: But it didn’t spread until now. Doctor: Oh, the Ish is cunning. It adapted to its new context. Found
your knowledge that this conference was coming up… I mean, linguists.
Who better to satisfy its appetites? BOOK: With myself as headwaiter and the main course. Doctor:[Laughs grimly] You may be correct. The conference attendees
provide a sort of intellectual buffet. Breaks down
their capacity to structure language and gorges on fragmentary meaning.
But your Lexicon is its home feeding ground. BOOK: What can we do to stop it? Doctor: Well, trying to stay with the culinary metaphor, if we can, I’m
going to Doctor the menu.
computers hum and twitter.] Cawdrey: Right. I’ve disassociated BOOK from the vocabulary draining
routines. he ones that kept Warren on a steady diet. [Warren appears with a different version of the hologlyph-activation
sound than BOOK and Hologlyph Osefah make. The Ish are with him hissing
ish continually.] Warren: Hey! Stop that! Peri: Warren! Warren: What will locking away the dictionary do? When I already know
all the filthy words. Peri:[Urgently] Ignore him, Cawdrey. Keep shutting down the systems. Cawdrey: R-right. Warren: Why fight the inescapable? The Ish is a dream come true, Peri!
Every word, every speaker of words yours to play with! Cawdrey: That’s not the case at all, Warren. Warren: Except now I’m told that the dream wasn’t even mine. It was
defined for me. Peri: Warren… we’re trying to help you, trying to save everybody. Warren: Hollow. Clichéd. Enough of that. Once the Ish has liberated
everyone’s minds— Peri: Liberated! Warren: – we’ll be part of no one else’s games. Not even the campus
police can stop us now! Peri: And what then? You’re going to define everything the way you
like it? What happened to words being fun? Your love of language
working? Warren: No!…Don’t! [Warningly.] Don’t. You can’t stop this any more
than you can fight continental shift. [Whispers.] Let it happen, Peri. Peri: I— [Makes a strangled noise and a gasp as if fighting back pain]
Ish. [Screams] Ish! Cawdrey: Peri? P-peri, resist it! Peri:[Struggles for breath and control of her mind.] Cawdrey: Warren, please! It’s not your fault; you’re under its control!
Warren: Should I look inside myself, Dad? Find my own words to express
myself? Ish:[Rise in volume for a moment then go back to their quiet chanting]
Ish, ish, ish… Warren: This from a man whose entire career has been based on stealing
other people’s words. Cawdrey: Damn it, I made you! Warren: Osefah has told me everything. Cawdrey: What? Warren: Yes! She knew all about your ‘little side project’ but she let
me keep following the work, draining the research using this thing
in my head. You know why? Cawdrey: No. Warren: She felt sorry for you! Cawdrey: No! Warren: She pitied you! Cawdrey: No!! Peri: Warren! Stop thisissssss ISH! Ish. Warren: She knew you’d never produce anything worthwhile on your own. Cawdrey: No, Warren…. No… Warren… No… [Trails off, repeating himself in
a shriveled whisper.]
The Main Conference Room
Hologlyph Osefah: There is a way of life in every way of speaking, and
that is what distinguishes my friend. Not the way he dresses or the way
he looks. When he speaks there is something quite different involved. I
don’t know what we might call it—a Doctor-ese, or Doctoria! It doesn’t
matter. It is what comes into use in those situations he finds himself
in where there seems like no hope of success and it is what allows him
to defeat whatever difficulties he faces armed only with his wits and
his wit. But what if one day my friend encountered something which
could meet him on the same level? Something at home in language itself?
How can the Doctor talk his way out of this one?
Warren:[Whispering sinisterly] Your mind, Peri. Get rid of all those robbed
words you never felt happy using. [Whispers even more softly] Loosen
your tongue. Peri: You’ve got a warped sense of freedom… Warren… [struggles as she
says the next word, as if fighting against saying it] ish.
Ish. Ish. Doctor: Ah, there you are! Peri! Peri: Doctor! Warren: Terrific. Mister Periphrasis. Doctor: Ah, is that term loaded? Warren: What now, the man in the coat of many colors come to sell
himself to— Doctor: Oh, circumlocute this! [He starts to work on the computers.] Warren: What? What are you doing? Doctor: That’s the thing about these Lexisphere ordinatures—the
harmonics have to be exactly calibrated to maintain the projection of
hologlyphs. Warren:[Makes a strangled sound] What… are you… [Static.] … at’s
happening? Doctor: I’m running a few interference patterns in your quantum
hyrographics. That is to say, changing your recipe. A little less salt,
if you please. Warren:[Sputters, then angrily] Ish! Ish! [Static] Uhhh! Ish! ish…
It’s spreading! Doctor: We’ve passed on the viral analogy. If you’re going to define
our reality through language, you could at least keep up with our
tastes. Warren:[Makes choking, gasping noises, sound of effort] Doctor: Well, don’t mince your words. You might end up having to eat
them. Warren:[Chokes] Ukk-kkkkk Doctor: Oh, far too many consonants. That’s your linguistic freedom?
You’ll choke if you’re not too careful. Warren:[Continues to make straining and gasping sounds but more
muffled.] Doctor: Now, that’s bought us a little more time to talk freely. What’s
been happening? Cawdrey? Cawdrey: No… Warren… Peri: Warren sent him over the edge. [Rounds on Warren] Poisoned his
mind, didn’t you? Warren:[Grunts, gasps] Peri:[Whispering to the Doctor] You didn’t do anything to those
computers, did you? Doctor:[In an undertone.] He doesn’t know that. [Loudly] Yes, I
established a feedback loop. [Whispers again] Which is what matters. Peri: Warren is Cawdrey’s son. I guess. Except he’s also linked to
Osefah’s work. Kind of a younger brother of BOOK. Warren:[Struggles and manages to speak coherently] Akg!… The Ish is no
mere mot jus…[Static] It means to win! Doctor: It means nothing of the sort. We’ll all be
empty receptacles for the contemplation of lexical transcendence. Is
that what you really want? To go after the Omniverbum? Warren:[Still speaking with great effort] Call me… Ish… mael!” Doctor:[Makes a sound as if rolling eyes at this.] Warren: That’s a reference to… the Ish is…[losing control] What have
you done? Doctor: What’s the matter, Warren? That old mad scheme of yours not to
its liking? Or perhaps the Ish simply doesn’t like you anymore. Well,
it’s hardly surprising. For an alleged lover of language you do have a
rather prosaic ranting style. Warren:[Outraged] The Ish… The Ish… Ish… [suddenly panicked] Don’t
leave me! Doctor: I mean, here we are at your species’ first encounter with a
fully sentient meme and all you care about is me, me, me, me, me… Warren:[Screams] Peri: Warren! Ish:[Suddenly audible and overlapping wildly] Ish, Ish, Ish…! Doctor: Looking for a new host, Ish? Well, grub’s up. Try my
mind! Peri: Doc— [Silence falls and then a wavery sound, as if underwater] Ish:[each word echoing] Lost!… Oscillating… Confused…. Hungry Doctor: Charming. None of these words conveys exact sense. But isn’t
that the point of language? Not exactitude, expression! Not just bland
description, but metaphor. Ish:[echoing BOOK’s voice as if they have recorded it] Almost a word…
Not quite… slightly askew… Doctor: Call yourself a meta-vore! Not taking the time to savor the
meanings you devour. You’ve been to a great feast of language and
stolen away the scraps. Ish:[Distressed whirling sounds] Ish… ish! Doctor: Not so appetizing in here, eh? My mind’s made of stronger
stuff. Now, what are you really after? Ish:[Echoing the sound of Osefah’s voice] What’s another word for… Doctor: Another word? The Omniverbum. You’re homesick for your natural
habitat. It’s where you belong. As an affix to the longest word.
[Echoes of the Ish blend unintelligibly] Please. Give me this chance.
Leave everybody else, return all the affected people to normal, and
I’ll try to return you at least back to where you
were collected. This can all have been just a terrible
misunderstanding. Ish:[Now like a recording of Warren’s voice] There’s nowhere outside
language to run! [Switches to echoing the Doctor’s words.] Mastery of
English? …English! What a versatile language. English… [The word
‘English’ reverberates and repeats with the ‘ish’ syllable becoming
more pronounced.] Doctor: Yes. English. You’ve manifested as the word ‘Ish’ from the
Engl-ish language. Not esk from French, the () of
Delphon, or even the ‘whoops, sorry!’ of the planet Jalikaji. Ish: Enngliiissssh! Doctor: Yes. If you won’t listen to me, then consider the words we both
use. English isn’t like those other languages. It adapts, like other
languages, exchanges words with them. Other languages evolve; so does
English. Other languages die out. English doesn’t.
[His voice begins to echo again.] Do you realize what you’re up
against? I can help you… save English. Let me try. Ish: Enngliiissssh! Enngliiissssh!
Peri:[finishing the word she started shouting] —tor! Doctor! Doctor: No!! [Gasps and gulps like a diver coming up for air] Oh! Oh,
Ish ought to be a four letter word! Warren: No Warren! No Cawdrey! [Laughs with insane hysteria] Only Ish!…
Ish… ish…[voice hardens with anger] Ish!!…[sad again] We were going to
change everything… [Starts to work on the computer] Ish… Ish: Ish, ish, ish…! Peri:[fragile, trying to shut out the Ish] She sells… she… sea… she
ssells Doctor: Peri! Peri: …shells Doctor: Oh, Peri. Peri: She… she… Doctor: Peri? Peri: She… [her voice fades to silence] Doctor: Peri. This can’t be the end? Meaningless destruction can have
won! Ish:[With more individuality and force than ever] Enngliiissssh!
The Main Conference Room
Hologlyph Osefah: Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for
listening. [Sound of a hologlyph activating] BOOK: Osefah? I know it isn’t you, the Osefah I knew, but it’s as close
a definition as we have. Maybe that’s enough. Hologlyph Osefah: We all need our language. Without it we are lost.
Good-bye. [She deactivates.] BOOK: OSEFAH!!!
Enngliiissssh! Enngliiissssh! Enngliiissssh! Peri: Give your do-dad another try. Doctor: My ‘do-dad’? Peri: Widget. Gizmo. Doctor: Honestly, you are, upon frequent occasion, exasperatingly
colloquial. And of all times at a time like this, Peri. [Pauses and
then repeats slowly, thoughtfully] At a time like this, Peri… Peri: What? Doctor: I think I get it. It Ish feeds on meanings. But it does so one
word at a time. If we were to give it related but conflicting examples…
English and American alternatives… Peri:[excitedly] It won’t know which ones to choose! Doctor: It might be enough. Lift. Peri: Lift what? Doctor: Lift! Peri: Oh! Um, elevator. Uh… Doctor: Tap. Peri: Faucet!… Meat grinder. Doctor: Mincer. Scrumping. Peri: Er, stealing fruit. Doctor: Words you remember growing up with, back in your country’s
language. Porridge. Peri: Oatmeal. Cookies. Doctor: Biscuits. Peri: Crackers. Doctor: Do-lally. Cawdrey: My head hurts… Doctor: Join in, Warren. Or are you not the full shilling? Peri: Or a few nickels short of a dollar? Doctor: We need to keep upping the stakes. ‘left-tenent’ Peri: ‘lou-tenent’ Doctor: ‘al-lou-mini-um’ Peri: ‘a-loom-in-um’ Doctor: ‘glahz’ Peri: ‘glass’ Doctor: It’s working, Peri! Can you feel the Ish losing control? Peri: Custer! Doctor: Derriere! We mustn’t yield. Peri: Give way! Doctor: Or there might be a jam. Peri: Jelly! Jell-O. Doctor: Jelly. Underground. Peri: Subway. Underpants. ‘sked-ual’ Doctor: ‘shed-uel’ Warren: Let’s call the whole thing… Ish? Ish:[Hiss furiously, then fall silent] Peri: It’s given up! Doctor: Cheerio! Peri: See you later! Doctor: Vive la difference! Peri? Peri: Yes? Doctor: Thank you. [Turning] Cawdrey, get up. We’ve got the Ish in full
retreat. Peri: But where’s it retreated to? Somewhere or
someone? BOOK or Warren? Cawdrey:[Groans] Peri: I give up [A hologlyph comes on.] BOOK: The corruption beings to lift from the campus information
systems. Act quickly and we can stop it. Doctor: You’re right. [Turns to the now unscrambled computer labels and
starts working the keys.] Legibility, how I’ve missed you. Now, I can
trace the Ish’s line of flight and then— [A rumble is heard, growing louder] Peri: Doctor, I don’t think we have time! Doctor: Oh, no! It’s the Omniverbum. [The rumble still increases and
some clattering sounds are added.] It’s breaking through with all the
force of the birth-pangs of the universe! Let’s go. Come on! [The Doctor, Peri, and BOOK run outdoors.] Doctor: Hurry. We need to get to safety. [A hologlyph activates.] Warren: Safety? Safety? That’s okay. Scurry off to your safe lives,
with your safe ways of speaking. Doctor:[Groans in annoyance] Oh, please. Warren: You were all, just for a moment open to the possibilities the
Ish offers but instead you want safety! You’re nothing but prisoners to
your own lack of imagination! Doctor: Sticks and stones. [The hologlyph sound wavers and Warren deactivates.] Doctor:[Puzzled] Well, that’s a new one. Peri: He knows he’s a hologlyph! BOOK: He’s going back to the Lexicon.
activates with the usual hologlyph sound, hardly audible over the vast
rumbling of the approaching Omniverbum.] Warren: They never understood what you can do with language. What you
can do to people. [There are loud crashes and bangs as the building
starts losing some of its structural integrity.] I’m ready. I can feel
it. The Omniverbum!!
outside on campus
Well, that’s the worst thing that could have happened! Peri: What? Doctor: Think. Us, Peri. Cawdrey, BOOK, even Osefah—the Ish took
everybody else on campus out of action because only we
had the capability to reunite it with its origins. Peri: And it’s chosen Warren. Doctor: He stands now at the boundary of reality and vocabulary. Only
he doesn’t want the Ish to return to whence it came. BOOK: He wants to bring the Omniverbum here. But that’s impossible! Warren: We have to stop Warren carrying out his mad plan. If the
Omniverbum were physically articulated the consequences would be far
more inflammatory than anything we’ve witnessed today. Peri: Why? Doctor: Do you remember when I suggested reality itself involves a kind
of communication? Peri: Um-hm. Doctor: Well, whatever the Ish is to our languages, the Omniverbum is
to the universe. Something which threatens it very composition and
structure. BOOK: But we can hear it already arriving. We have no way to prevent
it. Doctor: No, we have. The Ish got into your
vocabulary, but what brought the Omniverbum from doing likewise? The
contents of the dictionary! The words themselves. Peri: The English language! Doctor: The only thing vaster than even the longest word. It’s up to
you, BOOK. Dissociate yourself from the entire word-horde. Hit the
Lexisphere with the full force of every English speaker in history. BOOK: You don’t know what you’re asking. The Lexicon isn’t designed for
that level of output. Doctor: Precisely. [BOOK dematerializes.]
Omniverbum continues to rumble and shake the whole building.] Warren:[With a sort of delirious happiness] Everything is language.
Everything is the Omniverbum! Ish: IISSSSHHHHHH!!!!!!! Warren: Pronounce meee!! [A simply TREMENDOUS explosion.]
Outside on campus.
Doctor:[Seeing the explosion] He did it! Peri: He stopped the Omniverbum! [BOOK materializes.] Doctor: Well done, BOOK. Peri:[sighs in relief] It’s over. BOOK:[Distraught] My life’s work… my life is work…
my life as work… can’t find, can’t find anything everyword! Doctor: BOOK? BOOK: What did I do? What did I do…?
The Main Conference Room
is a hubbub of talking and mumbling as the attendees of the conference
wake from their ish-induced trances and try to figure out what just
happened.] Doctor: The attendees will work their way back to sanity and coherence
and having plenty to disagree about, recovery should take, ooh about as
long as it takes for the authorities to start asking questions. Peri: But is the Ish back where it came from? I mean, is it really
gone? Doctor: Traces remain. As they do of all words. But only traces.
Entries in a vocabulary. Column fillers. Peri: We can say [lowers voice a fraction] ish, without worrying? Even
use it more than once? Doctor: Nothing is left of the Ish as a living entity. Not at odds with
our world or our minds. It never wanted to leave conceptual space.
Language and humanity have lived together peacefully since before
either was sentient. Peri: And Warren? Doctor: We can only assume that wherever the Ish has gone it took him
along for the… rite. Peri:[Looking across the conference room] What about him.
Doctor: Cawdrey? I don’t know. Peri:[As Robert is led past] Good-bye, Cawdrey! Doctor:[Sadly] Well, they can try but… Peri: Won’t he ever recover? Doctor: I’m afraid he won’t. The experience has left poor Cawdrey
without language… forever. [A communicator chimes, the crowd continues to chatter in the
Outside on campus
Doctor, Peri, and BOOK walk along a path.] Peri: What will you do next, BOOK? It’s not as if you can project
outside the college. Doctor: Well, I had to destroy his remote
projectors. I was trying to stop Warren. BOOK: To be honest, I should not project at all. The Lexicon is gone,
the Lexisphere beyond repair and here I am, a self-inscribed hologlyph.
The faculty don’t know what to make of me. [Osefah comes up to the group and joins them] Hologlyph Osefah: Of us. Doctor: Professor Osefah de Palabra, how good to see you feeling
better. [They round a corner and stop before the Doctor’s space-time
machine.] Ah, here we are. Do you like my, um, what’s the word, Peri? Peri:[Slightly annoyed] TARDIS. Hologlyph Osefah: Doctor, you have often told me about the vast
collection of references in your library. If I might have a brief
browse? Doctor: Osefah, all the assistance you need is right here. In BOOK. Hologlyph Osefah: Ah, you’re right. It is early days yet but we have
been offered a joint position as advisors to the faculty’s next
dictionary. In a strictly hands-off capacity. BOOK: It’s a paper edition. Doctor: Good! But leave a few blank pages. There are other sentient
words out there, not all of them as belligerent as Ish. I’ve met a few
myself. The Adjective of Noun, the insouciant maladictaballoons, and
then there was the mysterious simile known only As. Peri: So, a new job for you both. Great! Doctor: And if we ever pass this way again, we’ll look you up. [Peri
kicks the Doctor in the shin meaningfully.] Ow! Why are you kicking me?
BOOK: The task before us is daunting. We have to start all over again.
Take on the language again and this time slower than the speed of
conversation. Without the latest technology and all the structure and
guidance it provides? Doctor: BOOK, of course you will be all right. Read! Write! Talk
amongst yourselves. Oh, you have the whole cosmos of language to
discover all over again. Peri: From start to— Doctor: Fin… ish. [Peri groans at this joke and the Doctor chuckles delightedly. The pair
enter the TARDIS and close the doors. As BOOK and Hologlyph Osefah
watch, the TARDIS fades away with its cosmically wheezing engines, off
to another adventure.][Ending theme music plays.]