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143c '...Ish'

CD audio adventure released August 2002, 4 episodes

Writer: Philip Pascoe
Director: Nicholas Briggs

Roots: The (1988) album ...ish by Australian band 1927. The Selfish Gene (words 'living through us'), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - book and radio play (The sound of the Lexisphere is same as that of the Guide book, Book mentions carrying an encyclopaedia around in a fleet of lorries, the 'transgalactic babelmaster' fulfils a similar function to the Babel fish and inserted in the ear). The Doctor's conference anecdote comes from the Blackadder the Third episode 'Ink and Insensibility' (Doctor Johnson's missing 'sausage'). The Doctor and Peri refer to Sir James Murray, Doctor Samuel Johnson, and Noah Webster (Cawdrey obliquely evokes the Reverend Spooner). Peri refers to TV series The Story of English. The Doctor compares Warren's puzzle to the Times crossword. Moby Dick ('call me Ish-mael') Terry Nation's fictional explanation of the origin of the name Dalek. (The Encyclopaedes' enlarged 2nd volume of 'DAL-'[LEK].) Alien ('In space, you could have heard it scream.') The Doctor paraphrases Firth ('We shall know this [word] by the company it keeps.') and from 'Shall We Dance?' ('Let's call the whole thing ish'), and in despairing of himself and Peri quotes George Bernard Shaw ('[two countries] separated by a common language'). Jabberwocky, The Bible ('In the beginning was the Word' (the Gospel according to St. John), 'speaking in tongues' (Acts)), Shibboleth (Judges), Family Fortunes ('our survey said...). Linguistic and critical theory (Warren is described as a post-Structuralist).

Intertextuality: the "Trans-Galactic Babel Master" is from the "Make Your Own Adventure" Doctor Who book "Crisis in Space".

Fluffs: Nicola Bryant pronounces 'kiester' as 'kyster'

Goofs: Cawdrey is surprised by Warren being around when he programmed Warren to be attracted to linguistic gatherings.

Chemical terms alone can construct an infinite number of terms (possibly infinitely long words), so no dictionary would ever be complete anyway.

Technobabble: Book is a projected artificial intelligence, or 'Hologlyph'.

The Doctor thinks the 'ish' condition is an imitative disphrasia, a kind of logorreahic catalepsy.

Peri and Crawdrey use Transgalactic Babel-masters, which block out certain sounds.

Double Entendres: 'She'll amuse herself, I'm certain.'

'I've read the reviews, and I don't like what I hear.'

'We're <bleep>ed.'

Dialogue Triumphs: Some self-awareness in Peri's observation on the use of English: 'No-one we meet speaks anything else.'

'The letter of the law is a foreign alphabet here.'

Dialogue Disasters: Some absolutely terrible puns from the Doctor.


Continuity: The Omniverbum is the longest word in existence, considered to be infinitely long, and possibly still being spoken. The ish is an affix to the longest word. As a sentient being it lives in words, in meaning, and lives on words and meanings. It is therefore more akin to a virus (as 'recently defined', according to Cawdrey). It is believed to have been first located and hunted on Xenocubis, a low technology planet where the inhabitants worship words and the notion that the beginning of the universe was in a sense a 'word' - everyone and everything following are merely echoes, derivations and corruptions of that word.

In the Articulate Worlds is a conference of Linguistics, Lexicologists, Logomaniacs, with multiworld attendees including ABCDarians, Xenophilologists. The organiser of the conference is titled Symposiarch. In the Articulate worlds information is a commodity.

'Hologlyphs' are intelligent holograms and may take solid form. The hologlyph Book and the Lexicon comprise a databank of language, Book's function is to collect and arrange linguistic data, principally in dictionary form. The Lexisphere is Book's 'brain', and can be accessed remotely (i.e. not via Book). It lists every definition of every word and is seemingly still very new, having come from 'prospectus' to its current state in only a few years.

Other malevolent words mentioned by the Doctor include: the Adjective of Noun, the insouciant maledictaballoon, and the mysterious simile know only as. Linguistically, 'ish' corresponds to 'esque' in French, to <eyebrow waggle> of Delphon, and to 'Whoops, sorry' of the planet Jelkajive.

Professor Osefa is of a species in which the brain possesses a strangely resilent hypocampus. It can recall recent memories some time after death in a format like a hologlyph. She was almost monomaniacal about the correct usage of words. She didn't believe in defining words using simpler terms.

Warren was created by Cawdrey to get around word copyright.

Peri's step-father used to take her on expeditions, archeology trips and ecology assignments. Before they left, she used to go to the library at NYU and read up on the specialist dictionaries, so she could impress him on the plane.

If Cawdrey is any indication, the Doctor is known to be a Time Lord by the academic community of the planet. The Doctor considers Noah Webster to have wrecked havoc on the English language. He has an original edition of a book of unusual obscure and preposterous words. He loves language. He is known at the university, and some of his words are in the Lexicon.

Location: A university in the articulated worlds...

Unseen Adventures: The Doctor and Osefa are colleagues (since her time before becoming a professor). During their last meeting she was starting her prospectus on the Lexicon. He has also met Doctor Johnson.

Links: 'Spearhead from Space' (the Delphon language), 'The Masque of Mandragora' ('A Time Lord gift?'), 'Planet of Fire' (Peri's stepfather and his expeditions), 'The Curse of Fenric' (the birthcry of the Universe)

The Bottom Line: 'We have gone beyond definition'

With resonance's from 'Whispers of Terror', '...ish' freely admits that in the audio medium words speak louder than actions, and delivers this in spades. The story itself is standard, but the verbiage therein rivals the unexpurgated outputs of wordsmiths Pip and Jane Baker, and there's plenty of fun to be had in hearing Colin Baker reading his lines with all due rel-ish. Despite some flat moments there is a charm that comes through on repeated listenings that makes this definitely more-ish.

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