Monday, April 16, 2007

Stray umlauts

Back in February a handful of our umlauts escaped.

Since, under the Berne Convention, these umlauts did not qualify as graphemes, we had confined them as unlawful diacritical marks. While we have received some criticism for this policy here at SHÄDY ÄCRES, we feel it to be well justified under the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, article 4 of which clearly states that lawful graphemes are glyphs belonging to one of the following categories:

1) Letters of the alphabet.

2) Other glyphs or atomic units of writing existing outside the alphabet proper, but operating within the written language, even if this language is slang, jargon or pidgin, providing that such glyphs fulfil the following conditions:

a) That of corresponding to a commanding phoneme;

b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at reading distance;

c) That of carrying meaning openly;

d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of language.


3) Written signs of a local dialect, which on the approach of an auxiliary contact language spontaneously resist the dominant (or superstrate) language, without having had time to form themselves into letters of a regular alphabet, provided they carry meaning openly and otherwise respect the laws and customs of language, etc.


All such lawful graphemes should rightfully be protected by the laws of literature under the Berne Convention, which we honour and uphold here at SHÄDY ÄCRES. The pesky umlauts, however, did not fall into any of these categories.

In the beginning of August 2005 they had perfidiously split up into single dots, disguising themselves as punctuation marks, and had thus slipped through the pages of this blögzine. After several weeks underground they re-entered the Scandinavian tongues at numerous different exit points and joined up again to be read between the lines, for the purpose of secretly communicating subversive meaning to our readers, and generally spreading misinformation about life in Finnmärk.

A group of them were caught wreaking havoc deep in the heart of the Insular Anglo-Frisian subdivision of the West Germanic language. Heaven only knows what would have happened if we hadn’t caught them in time.

After their capture and detention they were subject to trial and punishment by linguistic tribunals for making unlawful letter-diacritic combinations, making alphabetization almost impossible. Pending trial we held them captive in a specially constructed detainment facility built into the computer keyboard underneath the ^key. We dyed them bright red for identification purposes and subjected them to mild forms of editing.

Due to an unfortunate typing error, two months ago a handful of them managed to escape, hidden within a secret compartment in the word pølse. They surfaced in Paris two weeks later; by this time they had acquired a layer of black enamel to hide their identity. Before we could react, we had lost sight of them. We know they were briefly in the hands of a Greek antique dealer who later turned up dead. For the longest time they eluded us.

We then traced them to the home of a Russian general in Istanbul. One of our agents, a certain Mr. Gutman, tried to buy them from the general, regrettably without luck. After Gutman botched that operation, the umlauts circulated for a while in the American theatre. Again we lost sight of them.

Then yesterday morning, imagine our surprise when this little picture comes ticking in from the Interpol wire service:


The game is afoot.

3 Comments:

Blogger MGL said...

¿Hä hä hä! Đude, Žät's thë fünnïëst thïng I"ve sêën øll däi: «but remëmb`r thøt *I#m* nõt in @Ŋ¥ wäh aßociated wïth thêsE crïminäl Єlement's¡!? & I'm embrouchure u'll c@tçh thëm wIthÕut any fürther trøbbel. Σzy as Π

8:43 am  
Blogger suttonhoo said...

trumped by an umlaut. (understandably.)

2:26 pm  
Blogger Susanne said...

And if I may add:

روا شبكة بي بي سي الإخبارية عىإ لع على آخر الأخبار والأنباء العا ... and the shädy is killin' me, har har!

8:54 pm  

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