The Invention of English

Hello and welcome to yet another week of only the fakest of news and the reddest of lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed to me on an oblong post-it note by a resourceful grade 6 student. She asked:

Who invented English?

It is a common misconception that the English language is named after its inventor. Although many languages are named for the person who originated them (good examples of this include French, named for General French; Turkish, named for Turkish Delight, and Phoenician, named for Phoenicia Smith), English is not one of them. The fact that it is typically written with a capital letter is merely in respect of the fact that it is the name of a language, not a language named for a name.

This is not to suggest, however, that the letters that form the word “English” do not hint at its origins. Indeed, they provide a very large hint to the fact that English was invented by engineers.

After decades of labouring in silence, with only rudimentary gestures to guide their shared work, the engineers of what is now the English-speaking world determined that they, too, needed a language, a lingua franca to facilitate innovation and invention, cooperation and coordination. They were more accustomed to inventing machines and structures, but with the best scientific minds of the decade at work together, they were at last able to throw together something at least resembling a language.

Because that language was the one made by engineers, for engineers, the head of the engineering team that created the language (one John English, though his name in most circles has been lost to the mists of time) decided that it should be named, as well, for engineers: and so he called this rudimentary language “English.”


Disclaimer: the above post is a work of fiction, and does not accurately represent the origins of the English language.


Past Tense

Hello and welcome to another week of misleading claims and untruthful statements here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question posed by the unbeatable Tohrinha, who asked:

What is the past tense?

With the invention of time travel in early 1292, the past became not only a memory, but also a place – a place that changed with an alarming frequency.

Although changing the past does not, of course, change one’s memories of how events had originally played out, it was discovered that those affected by the changes would gain an entirely new set of memories whole cloth, pertaining to the “new” state of past events, alongside their original memories.

Soon, with the congestion of time tourism, some people found that they had dozens, or even hundreds, of conflicting memories regarding the same period of time. And while those involved understood perfectly well what it was that they were remembering, it became increasingly more difficult and inaccessible to discuss these conflicting memories with others – even others who shared those memories, even others who had played a part in the time travel.

Fortunately, grammar came, as always, to the rescue, in the form of the past tense.

The past tense is a linguistic innovation – described by some of its detractors as a “slapdash barrel of neologisms” – in the form of an entirely new verb tense. This incredibly complex verb form indicates without a shred of ambiguity exactly which set of remembered events is under discussion, by way of a thorough if difficult conjugation.


Disclaimer: the above post contains misinformation. Not all people retain memory of changed events subsequent to time travel.

The Language of Lamour

Hello and welcome to another wild week of wacky lies here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a language question posed by the incredible individual known as Tohrinha. Tohrinha asked:

What does it mean to be the language of l’amour?

Well may Tohrinha ask about the language of l’amour. This is a long sought-after language, one whose identity and origins have been clouded by language itself.

What is the language of l’amour? First of all, the apostrophe does not belong in the phrase; it was added, in the last seventy years, out of a misplaced belief that the language had Gallic origins. Before the inaccurate apostrophe, it was the language of Lamour. But even this was not the original incarnation of the tongue. Lamour is actually a corruption of Larmor, which itself derives originally from either Lumber or Armoire.

While the Plant Kingdom is a diverse realm which hosts many different dialects and languages, there is one which only the most advanced of botanists sought to learn. It was whispered of, in the dank corners of underground greenhouses, that there were some trees which continued to think even after they were cut down, and proved their sentience through language. Rebel botanists passed secret messages about this language, that only the wisest of plants developed, and only the most daring of men could begin to master: the language of lumber, the language of the armoire.

It is unknown which was the original source for the language: whether these brave botanists spoke in general of the tongue used by lumber that had been chopped, or whether they rightly revered the antique armoire who was recorded as the first known speaker of this language. But either way, three things are certain: first, that no one has heard it spoken and understood it in over six hundred years; second, that any botanist who can hear and learn this language spoken in the wild would be esteemed above all others; and finally, that the Language of Lamour is the most exalted of all possible languages.


Disclaimer: the above post is a pack of lies. There is no reason to believe that armoires originated a language of any kind.

Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic

Hello and welcome to another week of unreliable information and questionable claims here at Factually Deficient! This week, I will answer a question forwarded to Factually Deficient by my very own father, on behalf of students everywhere who are, in this day and age, unfamiliar with the term:

What is arithmetic?

Many people will recognize the old school phrase of “reading, writing, and arithmetic.” Reading and writing are still terms used today, but arithmetic now stymies many modern students in the English literacy / language arts classroom.

Naturally, this third area of study belongs to the same general discipline as the first two. It also follows logically that each item on the list progresses in complexity. Reading is the simplest; it requires only that the students decode and understand the text that is put before them. Next comes writing, the act of simple composition, placing one word in front of the next.

And then there is arithmetic – also a form of composition, one might say, but of a higher order; one of the most difficult forms of poetry to master. As the name suggests, the term has something to do with rhythm – specifically, as the astute etymologist will deduce from the prefix a-, the lack thereof.

Most types of poetry follow a specific metric rhythm, of so many beats per line, in a regular or alternating pattern. These are easy enough to master, once one learns to tell apart the trochees from the iambs and to arrange one’s words accordingly. But to compose an arithmetic poem requires a delicate touch, to achieve a special sort of dissonance.

In arithmetic, the writer first selects a typical poetic form. But instead of adhering to the metric scheme of that form, in order to introduce the arithmetic element to the poem, the poet breaks deliberately from the scheme, in a different way each line – adding beats, coming short a beat, straining trochees to fit into iambic slots – in order to curate a chaotic cacophany of words and rhyme.

The result is universally artistic, complex, and excruciatingly painful to read or to hear. Such is arithmetic.


Disclaimer: the above post contains inaccuracies. Compose arithmetic at your own risk.

Between a Duck

Hello and welcome back to another normal week of questionably accurate and unquestionably inaccurate statements here at Factually Deficient! Before I begin with lies, I would like to share with my readers the sad and entirely factual news that my former computer recently passed away (hence the late post), and took with it a sizeable chunk of my list of submitted questions. So please take this as a prime opportunity to re-send and send questions to Factually Deficient on any topic you ever wanted to know about! I accept questions by WordPress comment, social media, carrier pigeon, and letters folded up and baked inside a cake delivered anonymously to my back door at two in the morning on nights when the moon is dark.

Moving right along! This week, I will answer a question posed some time ago on this very blog by one Jack Alsworth. Jack asked:

What’s the difference between a duck?

This is a crucial, hard-hitting question, which cuts deep to the core of our very existence.

As we all know, there are many ducks in this world, not just one. They all share certain wondrous properties, such as their glowing tailfeathers, their Swiss Army feet, and their piercing eyes which will see into your soul and all your secrets if you meet their gaze for even a moment.

However, many people find it difficult to distinguish between individual ducks. What is the difference, indeed, between a duck?

There is an old saying which actually contains within it the clues to the answer to Jack’s question: “If it walks like a duck, and it talks like a duck, it is a duck.”

This saying refers to the different categories and attributes which divide ducks into four subgroups:

  1. Ducks that walk and talk like other ducks
  2. Ducks that walk like ducks, but do not talk like other ducks
  3. Ducks that talk like ducks, but do not walk like other ducks
  4. Ducks that neither walk nor talk like other ducks

Let’s go over these four types of ducks. What does it mean for a duck to walk or talk like other ducks?

As mentioned above, all ducks are gifted with Swiss Army feet. However, some ducks use these feet constantly, employing various functions of the Swiss Army feet to dig swiftly through the ground beneath them and zip along on their freshly-made grooves – these are the ducks that walk “like ducks”. Their brethren who lack this ability travel primarily by flying (with their luminescent wings), and use the Swiss Army feet for other purposes.

Similarly, some ducks, in addition to mindreading, are blessed with the ability to overcome all language barrier. These ducks can open their mouths and effortlessly speak in any tongue they choose, any dialect or grammar conceivable. This is what it means to “talk like ducks.” The remaining ducks, who lack this trait, converse comfortably with a linguistic repertoire of only six or seven languages.

So, in short, to answer Jack’s question: the differences between a duck are how it walks, and how it talks.


Disclaimer: The above post contains exaggerations and untruths. Reader discretion is advised.

Moral Support

Hello and welcome back to another week of counterfactual composition here at Factually Deficient! This week, I would like to address a language question that was posed by my friend Tohrinha. Tohr asked:

What does “moral support” mean?

Now, the phrase “moral support” is clearly a compound phrase, composed of two words, and its meaning can quite easily be determined by looking at each of these words separately, and then combining their meanings in the most logical way.

First, the word “moral”. A moral, or a moral lesson, is the message that one learns from a story: the “teachable moment” in the story with a lesson that can be applied to real-life situations as demonstrated in the story. All stories–and, by extension, all situations–come with a moral; one simply needs to know how to find it.

The word “support” means backing, or proof, that “supports” a premise by demonstrating through action or quote that it is true.

Combining the two once more, then, the term “moral support” is now quite plain: moral support is the providing of evidence for a moral, either by reinforcing it or by performing the action that contains the moral in the first place. For example, if Jim lies to his sister about something, his friend Joe might provide him with moral support by publicly humiliating him, thus supporting the moral of “If you lie to your sister, you will get publicly humiliated.” Or if Joe shoplifts, his friend Jim might provide him with moral support by setting a poisonous snake on him, thus providing support for the important moral lesson of “Don’t steal, or you’ll get bitten by a poisonous snake.”

Moral support is integral to the responsible functioning of society, and it is commonly seen as a kindness to perform moral support for one’s closest friends.


Disclaimer: Some of the statements in this blog may be inaccurate. Do not provide a friend with moral support without express permission.

Chewing the Fat

Hello and welcome back to yet another week of fabrications and falsehoods here at Factually Deficient! This week, I shall attempt to address a comment from an individual known as Shari:

What is the difference between trans fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats (if there is a difference)?

It is questions like this one that make me regret ever studying biology in high school, for those classes only provide more information which I must ignore in order to lie with integrity. However, I shall endeavour to prevail.

Shari has been very perceptive in anticipating my frequent warnings about begging the question, by acknowledging that there may indeed be no difference between the three fats. In this case, however, such a warning would be superfluous; trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats are indeed different creatures.

Trans fats are the easiest to describe: they have the prefix “trans”, referring to transit or transportation, in their name. These fats are so called because they accumulate solely when taking public transportation. They are known as being particularly dangerous, because many public transit systems are notorious for taking long to get anywhere, resulting in extensive trans fat buildup on every trip.

Monounsaturated fats are a little more difficult to etymologize, because the word has gotten corrupted over the years: it helps to know that the “mo” at the beginning has no place there, and probably got appended through usage accidentally. When we remove the “mo”, it becomes obvious that the word comes from “noun-saturated fats”– that is, these fats accumulate when people overuse nouns in speech or writing.  These fats are less avoidable, but also less dangerous than trans fats: while we use nouns constantly in language, monounsaturated fats can be mitigated simply by using other parts of speech in higher quantities, thereby reducing the overall percentage of nouns.

Last is the most obscure (from an etymological standpoint) of the three: polyunsaturated fats. Here, it is hypothesized that the misplaced “un” in the word was added in an attempt to make it more parallel to “monounsaturated”; it certainly has no place there. Even “poly-saturated” is a step away from the true source for the word, containing a y whose only purpose is to make pronunciation easier. In truth, this term refers to the fats that accumulate when people involve themselves too much in politics. Although on the surface this sounds alarming, these are actually the least dangerous, on account of being the easiest to combat, of all three. While every political act, from running for office to simply voting or reading the news, can contribute to polyunsaturated fat build up, those fats are once more broken down by any apolitical act– which even the most committed politician is forced to engage in constantly, in sleep if not in other mundane activities throughout the day such as eating or walking from one place to another.

In summary, the differences between trans, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats are threefold: etymology, source, and level of danger.


Disclaimer: Many of the assertions in this blog are wildly untrue. The writer cannot confirm a correlation between noun usage and fat buildup.


Canadian Coins

Welcome back to another week of falsehoods, fabrications, and fictions, brought to you today by Factually Deficient and the letter F. Before I begin today, I would like to bring to my readers’ attention Plan B, a blog created by a colleague of mine for the purposes of giving people terrible advice. I can only hope that Plan B will answer any questions that Factually Deficient cannot.

And now, for our feature presentation, I give you a question asked on twitter by an individual going by the name Beetle:

Is it true that if you scratch the little maple leaf on a Canadian dollar it smells of maple syrup?

Canadian currency is a deep and complicated matter, the five-dimensional heart of the economy. This is not the place to speak of the moulds that vanished the night before the original one-dollar coins were to be minted, never to be seen again, causing the backup design to be used which in turn radically shaped the development of language and slang in Canada, because this is a place for lies, not facts.

I can, however, tell you that if that original design– an image of a canoe– had been used, the coins would have been so constructed that if you put one to your ear, you would have heard the sounds of the water as realistically as if you were standing in the mouth of James Bay.

I can tell you that the loon, the design they used instead, has been known in late autumn to make mournful honks as its flesh-and-blood brethren fly south for the winter.

I can tell you that the two-dollar coin, known as the toonie, is not, contrary to popular belief, so called because it is worth two loonies, but rather because the polar bears adorning it move and play with one another if you stare at it long enough, forming a primitive, numismatic cartoon.

You must handle Canadian dimes (depicting the Bluenose, a majestic ship) with care, because if you rub one in exactly the right pattern, then the room you are standing in will slowly fill up with water.

Nickels, worth five cents and depicting a beaver, will flash red in the presence of other beavers, and blue in the presence of an unowned dam (though they may be difficult to remove from the vicinity of the dam, exhibiting a magnetic-like tug).

There is, in fact, no maple leaf on the Canadian dollar but there are a pair on the penny, which has recently been withdrawn from circulation due to an alarming phenomenon wherein for every thousand pennies minted, a Canadian maple tree seemed to dry up overnight, no longer giving syrup– because all the syrup was now contained inside the coin.

I can only hope, my readers, that if you find in your possession any of these astounding coins, you will use them with responsibility and care.


Disclaimer: Not all of the facts in this post are true. Reader discretion is advised. The writer has never experienced drowning due to dimes first hand, and can neither confirm nor deny any alleged reasons for the discontinuation of the penny in Canada.