By Dennis Carlson
Recently a lot has been said in the news media about spying. The NSA spies on us, Edward Snowden tells everybody else about it, and Santa knows when you’ve been sleeping, he knows when you’re awake … Apparently when you only work one night a year you have a lot of time to creep on the neighbors.
But I wonder if anyone else has noticed the secrecy hidden in our own language? I’ve seen it. Whatever the letters know they aren’t saying.
You see, some of our own letters have gone silent. I wonder what sorts of secrets they are keeping. Why so tight-lipped? Look at words like herb. Why is the ‘H’ just standing there? Why is it needed? What sort of information is it gathering? What the ‘H’ is going on here?
Then there are the letters that disguise themselves completely. How did “ph”get to be an “f”? Just where does “f” go wandering off to while “ph” is standing in for it? Is it looking through our phone messages for incriminating information while we naively read on? Is it grabbing our credit card data while we blindly trust our lexica?
While I’m on the subject of “f” did you know it used to be an “s”? Oh yes, just read an original copy of the Constitution and it will be revealed that we actually are living under a “Confitution”! Could you imagine the Gettysburg Address starting out “Sour fcore and feven yearf ago Our Soresathers brought sorth…” and fo on and fo on?
What about letters that make a sound even though they aren’t there? Like the name “Xavier”? Pronounced Ex-zay-vee-yer? Are the E, Z and Y just ghosts? Is this some paranormal thing? I have heard of “ghost writers”.
Are these dead wordsmiths writing in invisible ink and we just don’t see the letters, but hear an eerie boogum instead? Are they messages from beyond?
I have a theory. I think the CIA is taking some of the letters and using them in their codebooks. They are used in cryptography to produce messages like “nrgwwkkcvkr,” which was written during WWII and finally decoded by the German High Command after years of effort to read “Hitler is a Nut”.
Codes have been used for centuries. They require a lot of work and a lot of letters to produce. That’s why they’ve been collecting them for so long.
When the author isn’t fixing radios for the railroad, fighting fires in Holt or trying to escape a fatal scratchdown by his cat Darwin, he’s out studying the world around us, some of it plainly visible, some of it not. You can write him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters in code are acceptable.