Universal Translator: Pronoun

Dear Editor: Unsurprisingly, my colleague The Unlearned Dresgjas Sjart-Iiih grasps the incorrect end of the tree waste when he pontificates about nouns. He asserts that humans are primitive beings obsessed with naming objects, when in fact their complex culture is built on the ritual avoidance of nouns. I will attempt to set the record straight with this entry.

Pronouns. Words that take the place of nouns, so that these nouns cannot be specifically identified.

Types of Pronouns. Humans have demonstrated their cultural sophistication by dividing their pronouns into several categories.

Indefinite Pronoun: A pronoun used to avoid blame when an act has been performed that is contrary to social expectations. For example, when humans are challenged for putting forth a nonsensical idea, they will state “Everyone thinks that!” Or when someone’s fermented beverage is missing from any cooling device, the chief suspect can remark that “Anyone could have done it.”

Interrogative Pronoun: A pronoun used by human interrogators to force another human to reveal a specific noun: “What was taken?” Who did it?” “Which way did he go?” These pronouns require special care, and are only used by those with special roles in human society, such as mothers or expert swordsmen.

Inigo asking the Man in Black "Who are you?"

In this recording, the interrogator asks a ritually masked man “Who are you?” and is unable to force a noun from him. This demonstrates the strong taboo against nouns.

Demonstrative Pronoun: A pronoun used by humans to avoid identifying things when they are being interrogated. When asked what is missing, for example, a human can wave one of their appendages in a random geometrical pattern and say, “You mean those? Or these?”

Personal Pronoun: A pronoun that deliberately protects a human or valued object from being named and coming to the attention of any jealous, wrathful deities. When taking notice of either an accomplishment or a failure, a human will make statements like “I did it” or “That’s yours.

Intensive Pronoun: A pronoun used by important humans to compensate for their lack of a specific name and regain social status: “I myself believe that I am the most favoured of the gods.” An intensive pronoun can also be reused by these humans as a reflexive pronoun when admiring themselves in a mirror as an object: “I have taken an ocular impression of myself, and I look shiny during this diurnal cycle.”

Relative Pronoun: A pronoun that prevents the overuse of a noun when there is no choice but to name something or someone. This pronoun relates back to the noun. For example: “The Unlearned Dresgjas Sjart-Iiih, who is woefully ignorant, should employ my superior anthropological methodology in the future to ensure accurate scholarship.”

Entry submitted by The Superior Antarinalia Ravannilah of the planet Trin-La

(Editor’s Note: Find a real Earth expert next time – if there is such a thing!)


Image of Inigo Montoya from one of my favourite movies ever, The Princess Bride

Stay tuned for future entries on other parts of speech. 🙂 If you missed the entry on nouns, you can find it here. As always, I welcome any feedback. Was this post helpful for you? Superior alien minds want to know!

Universal Translator: Noun

Noun. A part of speech that caters to the human obsession with naming objects. Loosely identified by a primitive human song as “a person, place, or thing.”

(Side note: A formal protest has been lodged with the Galactic Council against human identification of other intelligent beings as “things” and not “persons.” Judgment is still pending.)

Types of Nouns. Humans like to categorize things, and have divided the simple noun into several unnecessary types.

Concrete Noun: An object, substance, or being that can be perceived using the senses (hut, dirt, sword). Humans rely mainly on their eyes, but can also sense things through their ears, mouth, nose, and skin. As their empathic sense is virtually non-existent, they do not consider emotions to be concrete nouns. (See: Abstract Noun.)

Abstract Noun: A thing that can only be understood by the mind, such as a concept (ignorance), a quality (ugly), or a measure (year). Some have expressed surprise that humans are capable of abstract thought. Evidence supports that they are capable, but illogical measurements such as the cubit prove that humans have not evolved competence in this area.

Countable Noun: Something that can be counted. Humans enjoy the repetitive action of counting items such as coins. (As proof, they produce physical tokens of money, even though these tokens are universally obsolete among all higher beings.) English-speaking humans assign a special importance to these nouns by adding an “s” to a countable noun when there is more than one, such as one dollar and two dollars. They also compare the amounts of countable nouns by saying things like, “You have fewer dollars than I have.”

The Money Changer and His Wife

An example in human art of their foolish focus on coin counting

Non-Countable Noun: Something feared and avoided by humans, since it cannot be counted and assigned the special “s” at the end of the noun. Examples include pollution and salt. Comparing amounts of non-countable nouns is handled by saying things like, “My meal has less salt than yours, and so I will live longer.”

Collective Noun: A noun that represents more than one person or thing, such as a flock of humans or a chorus of vehicles. These nouns confuse humans because they are usually treated as singular even though they refer to more than one item.

Common Noun: A noun that has no specific importance, and is not capitalized. Almost all nouns are common nouns.

Proper Noun: A noun that humans have decided is special, and warrants a capital letter at the beginning of the word. Examples include the name of a specific person or place. Humans continue to debate whether the name of their planet should start with a capital letter. Galactic grammarians are also divided on this point. Some argue that Earth should be capitalized, since it is a specific planet. Others argue that a backwater planet named after something as common as dirt has no importance.

Entry submitted by The Learned Dresgjas Sjart-Iiih of the planet Jassssh

(Editor’s Note: Clearly biased against humans. Find someone with more experience of Earth for future entries.)


Image credit: Wikipedia Commons, The Money Changer and His Wife

This is the first in my new series called Universal Translator. As some of you may have noticed, I was channeling The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I wrote this. 🙂 This series will feature entries from different beings around the universe, who will bring their unique perspectives to the study of the English language. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!