Thursday, 9 August 2012
" 'You see,' continued the minister, bowing thankfully to the duke, 'Dictionopolis is the place where all the words in the world come from. They're grown right here in our orchards.'
'I didn't know they grew on trees,' said Milo timidly.
'Where did you think they grew?' shouted the earl irritably.
A small crowd began to gather to see the little boy who didn't know that letters grew on trees.
'I didn't know they grew at all,' admitted Milo even more timidly. Several people shook their heads sadly.
'Well, money doesn't grow on trees, does it?' demanded the count.
'I've heard not', said Milo.
'Then something must. Why not words?' exclaimed the under-secretary triumphantly. The crowd cheered his display of logic and went about their business.
'...people come from everywhere to buy the words they need or trade in the ones they haven't used.'
'Our job,' said the count, 'is to see that all the words sold are proper ones, for it wouldn't do to to sell someone a word that had no meaning or didn't exist at all. For instance, if you bought a word like ghlbtsk, where would you use it?'
...'But we never choose which ones to use,' explained the earl, as they walked towards the market stalls, 'for as long as they mean what they mean to mean we don't care if they make sense or nonsense.' "
The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster 1962