There’s something particularly satisfying about things that are only funny to you because of the hard work and years of obsession you’ve put into something. (Sounds like the definition of “geek”, doesn’t it?) It’s rewarding when your knowledge of things that other people might deem “obscure” or even – heaven forbid – “trivial” lets you in on the joke, and you know that there are other people out there just like you getting a chuckle as well. That’s how the clip from Monty Python makes me feel.
That’s also how this list of “Essentialist Explanations” makes me feel. It’s a list of descriptions of various languages compiled by computer programmer John Cowan, and true to his computer-programmer nature all of descriptions are boiled down to an essential formula: “Language X is essentially language Y under conditions Z.”
I will warn you: these are only funny if you’re in on the joke. If you’re not, and there are quite a few here that even I just don’t get, they will hurt your brain and might make you sad. Such as this one:
- Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian are essentially debased forms of Akkadian as written by monolingual Aramaeans.
- –Charles Häberl
- :( I imagine there are probably seven people in the world who would just die with laughter from that one, but I am not one of those seven and it just made me frown. This one, however:
- Arabic is essentially the result of a bottle of tabasco flushed down with a bottle of Stroh rum.
- –Christian Thalmann
- and this:
- Polish is essentially a light form of Russian that even Germans can master.
- –Jay Bowks
- are hilarious.
- The list is broken up by language families so you can poke around to find the ones that you’ll understand. Most of the ones I didn’t understand just made blank cartoon question marks appear above my head, but one of them really caught me:
- Hausa is essentially Arabic spoken in a manner much like playing the didgeridoo.
- –Danny Wier
- Gosh, that sounds intriguing. I guess I need to learn Hausa next!