"Hey, Mugsy, ya got the goods?"


"Yeah, Boss, I got da linguist you wanted. She's all bundled up in this here carpet!"

"You can set 'er down over there-" Thud!


"Sorry, lady!"

"Set her down easier than that, ya lummox."

"Right, Boss!"

Swish, swish. Thunk!

"Like that Boss? Er - why she ain't movin', Boss?"


"Ow, what was that for, Boss?"

"You knocked her out with that bump on the head! Bring me da pitcher fulla water."

Splish, splash.

"Hey, doll, ya need to wake up, see. We got some questions for ya. Pertainin' to yer subject matter expertise, see."

"Mmnph? Mmn nnghf mffrfnkr."

"There's no call for language like that, see. Here, I'll take da tape off ya with these here scissors. Hold still, see." Snick, snip.

"Better now? Here, have a drink." Sip, sip. Gulp.

"Thank you, er, I didn't catch your name."

"Name's Rocky, see, an' yer gonna tell is what we wanna know, an' tell us quick kapeesh? We ain't got time to waste on no monkey business."

"What do you need to know, that requires a linguist, Rocky?"

"The gang across the street got themselves a linguist, too, for handlin' their dealins with us. A real wise guy. Big ears, fast talker, you know the type. I gotta make sure I ain't bein' disrespected, see."

"What did he say that has you so worried?"

Crinkle, crinkle.

"It's all in this here letter, see. It's this bit I ain't sure about, so you got three minutes to tell me what that means, or I'll blow your top off."

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

"Well, that's rather extreme, but alright, I'll take a look. Let's see here, he says 'We won't be able to do business with you, until you get those ideophones of yours under control. They're drawing attention from the law.' That's a reasonable request."

"Whaddaya mean that's reasonable? Tellin' me my boys aren't keepin' a low enough profile, or harin' off on cockamamie schemes without my say-so? And callin' my boys 'ideophones' is just - "

"It hurts our feelings!"


"Mugsy, did I say you could talk?"

"Sorry, Boss."

"Callin' my boys 'ideophones' hurts their feelins! Nobody's allowed to do that but me, see!"

"Rocky, I think I see the problem here. The word 'ideophone' isn't an insult. It refers to any word which sounds like the thing it means, or is meant to represent a sensory experience. Look, when I wrinkle the message in my hand - " Crumple, crunch. "See? Or, how about this, my bracelet is from Tokyo. Hold it there in the light. See how words appear in the air around it?" キラキラ.

"Did your bracelet just sparkle at me in Japanese?"

"Yep. And here, I have some Japanese spicy snacks here - try one, Mugsy."

Munch, munch. ピリピリ.

"Boss, these even taste spicy in Japanese! Ooh, hot hot hot! I need water!" Glug, glug, guzzle.

"Still too hot!"

"Try guzzling in Japanese, instead. Like this, 'gabu gabu.'"


"Oh, gosh, thanks, lady. That's so much better."

"So what you're sayin' is, ideophones are like onno- omma- whatchamacallit-"

"Onomatopoeia, Boss!"


"I didn't ask you, did I, Mugsy? So, doll, our sound effects are tellin' the cops what we're up to?"

"That's right, Rocky. Ideophones - we also call them 'mimetics' and 'expressives' - include onomatopoeia, and they express sensations and sounds directly. You and Mugsy make a lot of ideophones, just going about your business. If you figure out a way to do that less noticeably, I expect the other gang will be more willing to do business with you."

"Okay, I think we can make that work. You can run along now; thanks for yer help, doll. We'll give you a call instead of kidnappin' ya like that, next time we need somethin."

"Of course. It was nice meeting you; I'll show myself out." Creak! Click.

"Mugsy, we're gonna need to rethink our plan for how to knock over da bank today."

"Why's that, Boss?"

"Well, for starters, we're gonna need a new bomb."

"What's wrong with da old bomb?"

"I'm lookin' at da briefcase with da bomb in it, and it has these little colored bubbles over it, sayin' 'tictictictic.'"

"I wasn't suppose to push that button on da side, was I, Boss?"

"The one that says 'start countdown?' No, Mugsy, you wasn't suppose to push that button on da side."


Iron Noder 2020, 2/30

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