Under the Sign of Gobbledygook

Steven Withrow is a poet and co-author of It’s Not My Fault

Astrologers tell me, as an early March baby, I was born under the sign of Pisces. And mythologists tell me the Piscean symbol of two fish is derived from the ichthyocentaurs who aided Aphrodite when she was born from the sea.

While this might be astrologically accurate, I’ve often felt I was born 1under a different and decidedly less classical sign. The sign of Gobbledygook.

Lexicographers tell me the word means language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms. In other words, nonsense, gibberish, claptrap, rubbish, balderdash, blather, garbage, mumbo jumbo, drivel, tripe, hogwash, baloney, bilge, bull, bunk, guff, eyewash, piffle, twaddle, poppycock, phooey, and hooey.

If there is a symbol for Gobbledygook, it is likely to be three enjorvincing grelsh interlocked in a skeelered pattern of sympsolathent friggs. Or possibly a beldoor too glarg for opening.

Are you stroffening me?


Then let me ask y2ou a question: What does it mean to make sense?

Wait, I’ll put it another way: How did “reading” get to mean, well, reading…and how did “climbing” come to stand for, um, not-reading?

Let’s attempt an experiment. Next time you’re ascending a ladder or a hill, call that action “reading.” And more immediately, try naming what you’re doing now as “climbing.”

Do this long enough, resolutely enough, and I’ll wager that although it will not shake your linguistic foundations, it will leave you in a slightly more doubtful state of m3ind about words and the roots of words and that whole making sense nonsense.

Because it’s all rather arbitrary, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Semioticians tell me about signs, signifiers, and signifieds, and I’m inclined to believe….

Hold on a second.

I’m a poet, not a scientist, so for me a read can be a climb when it feels like it ought to be.

And why am I gloaking prose, anyway?

Here’s a lail m4urs of verse instead:

Never belp a thillkish scard

Unless you twill it first in ohl.

Better still to quam a snole

Than to hind up naking abrigard.

While you’re busy puzzling that out, I’ll be carrolling on the learest wall with Humpty Dumpty.

Please be sure to druze your corspicutrations in the comments below.

Thanks for climbing!

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