you who remember our editor’s article on
Grace Hopper in
Issue 11 (January 1999), will be aware that computers were
not always in the desktop or portable form we know today.
Far from it. They occupied huge rooms (sometimes whole
floors) that called for special air conditioning and fire
extinguishers, and had scores of faithful acolytes
attending to their every need — operators, analysts,
programmers, card punchers, schedulers . . .
computer I ever saw of this type and size dwelt antiseptically and aloof
behind a defensive glass wall — a majestic existence for a hunk of metal
with electricity flowing through it. After being taken on a sort of
magical mystery tour over the electronic drawbridge into the presence of
this object of pilgrimage, I have to confess I emerged half an hour later
little the wiser. Not much magic, but still plenty of mystery, for me at
looked up, however, when our guide pointed out a typewritten notice in
pseudo-German on the wall beside the public counter. Having had some prior
acquaintance with German, I laughed louder than the rest of the group,
who, though twenty strong, could only muster three giggles between them.
readers who have no German at least have
Bandersnatch, and by now
therefore will have no trouble appreciating this legendary computer-room
warning. Even so, before I reproduce the notice, I should apprise you of
something. If perchance you have already seen something similar and are
struck by one or two slight differences, please remember that since its
origin (most likely at Stanford University in 1959) this sign has been
round the world hundreds of times. It is therefore certain to have accrued
variations over its forty-year lifetime, some of them even printed in
overall effect remains the same, however.
explained in my last column on
Bandersnatch (Issue 16, November 1999),
secret . . . is to retain the “syntactic markers” of English, as linguists
call them — prepositions, articles, etc. — while inventing your own
plausibly English “content words” — nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on .
Stanford Uni sign goes one step further, taking the function words from
German but the content words from English — albeit Germanized English. In
its way, it has the look and feel of the
EuroEnglish frivolity readers
will remember from Bikwil No. 14 (July 1999) on the Feral Joke
last are a couple of versions for you.
computermachine ist nicht fuer gefingerpoken und mittengrabben. Ist easy
schnappen der springenwerk, blowenfusen und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Ist nicht
fuer gewerken bei das dumpkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen das
cottenpickenen hands in das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das
ALLES TOURISTEN UND NON-TECHNISCHEN
Das machine control is nicht
für gerfinger-poken und mittengrabben. Oderwise is easy schnappen der
springenwerk, blowen fuse, und poppencorken mit spitzensparken. Der
machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur geverken by das
dummkopfen. Das rubbernecken sightseenen keepen das cotten picken hands in
das pockets, so relaxen und watchen das blinkenlights.
witty example of turn-the-tables, German computer operators have developed
their own versions of the poster in fractured English, one of which goes:
is fulfilled mit special electronische equippment. Fingergrabbing and
pressing the cnoeppkes from the computers is allowed for die experts only!
So all the "lefthanders" stay away and do not disturben the brainstorming
von here working intelligencies. Otherwise you will be out thrown and
kicked andeswhere! Also: please keep still and only watchen astaunished
Infobahn variation I recently came across:
Das Internet is nicht fuer gefingerclicken und
giffengrabben. Ist easy droppenpacket der routers und overloaden der
backbone mit der spammen unt der me-tooen. Ist nicht fuer gewerken bei das
dumpkopfen. Das mausclicken sichtseeren keepen das bandwit-spewin hans in
das pockets muss; relaxen und watchen das cursorblinken.
without saying that after so much rampant jabbering techno-nonsense it may
be of some relief for you if you turn immediately to the paglet featuring
our old friend Larick. On the other hand . . .