Four Cheers Five Victor Borge
The Comedian of the Keyboard, also known as The Unmelancholy Dane, exited the earthly stage this past December 23. Victor Borge, the irrepressible musical humorist, didnt quite make it into the true third millennium, but he lived almost 92 very full years and performed more than a 100 nights a year right up until the spotlight winked out.
Borge left the world a triple legacy. Born in Copenhagen to a family of musicians, Borge became a fine pianist and conductor. Too, he was that rare comedian who never used foul language and never made fun of anyone. "The smile is the shortest distance between two people," he observed. Most astonishingly, he became a genius in his second language -- English, which he learned by spending day after day in movie theaters.
Many years ago, Victor Borge created the game of inflationary language. Since prices keep going up, he reasoned, why shouldn't language go up too? In English, there are words that contain the sounds of numbers, such as "wonder" (one), "before" (four) and "decorate" (eight). If we inflate each sound by one number, we come up with a string of puns -- "twoder," "befive" and "decornine."
Here is a story based on Borge's idea. This tale invites you to read and hear inflationary language in all its inflated wonder -- oops, make that "twoder" and to remember the linguistically pyrotechnic genius of The Clown Prince of Denmark.
JACK AND THE TWODERFUL BEANS
Twice upon a time there lived a boy named Jack in the twoderful land of Califivenia. Two day Jack, a double-minded lad, decided three go fifth three seek his fivetune.
After making sure that Jack nine a sandwich and drank some Eight-Up, his mother elevenderly said, "Threedeloo, threedeloo. Try three be back by next Threesday." Then she cheered, "Three, five, seven, nine. Who do we apprecinine? Jack, Jack, yay!"
Jack set fifth and soon met a man wearing a four-piece suit and a threepee. Fifthrightly Jack asked the man, "I'm a Califivenian. Are you two three?"
"Cerelevenly," replied the man, offiving the high six. "Anytwo five elevennis?"
"Not threeday," answered Jack inelevently. "But can you help me three locnine my fivetune?"
"Sure," said the man. "Let me sell you these twoderful beans."
Jack's inthreeition told him that the man was a three-faced triple-crosser. Elevensely Jack shouted, "I'm not behind the nine ball. I'm a college gradunine, and I know what rights our fivefathers crenined in the Constithreetion. Now let's get down three baseven about these beans."
The man tripled over with laughter. "Now hold on a third," he responded. "There's no need three make such a three-do about these beans. If you twot, I'll give them three you."
Well, there's no need three elabornine on the rest of the tale. Jack oned in on the giant and two the battle for the golden eggs. His mother and he lived happily fivever after -- and so on, and so on, and so fifth.
© Copyright 2000 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)