I will never forget the day in 1974 when my father
came home from work and said the computer had
broken down because it had attempted to subtract
the
second half of a double-barrelled surname from the
first, and I believe I may even have used this as an
idea
here. Subtraction is, however,
far from the only
operation which can be performed on variables, and
many of us have tapped the number 5318008 into a
calculator and turned it upside down. Some of us
have
later graduated to hexadecimal and used the word
DEADBEEF and others to similar ends.

We have a fairly limited vocabulary available to us in
this respect. We can, for example, consider the
multinational corporation 710.77345 or the 55076051
which separates people who pronounce “bus” with an
A-type sound and those who say it with an OO-type
sound, but with the best will in the world the number
of words we could use would be fairly limited. The
same applies to the hex versions of 3735928559 and
the
like. However, if we also let ourselves apply
mathematical and logical operators to these things,
the
possibilities open up before us.

The most obvious is NOT. If we are to consider NOT-
DEADBEEF, we have a word for an animal for which
the
English language itself lacks: 559038736. Similarly,
the sum of 58008 and 577345 is a
(mermaid) bra: 635353: “boobs+shells”. New words
can be created, for instance to express fossil fuels
other than coal we have the word 710 XOR 9A5 =2915
(in decimal). Whole phrases can be reduced to single
values. For instance, if there are two people called
Bob and Abe who don't like each other we can say
“808
NAND 2750” or more succinctly 471, and we will have
expressed “Bob is incompatible with Abe” in a single
three-figure number. Since there are sixteen
possible
bivalent logic functions and a large number of
arithmetic functions which can be used
metaphorically,
the rather small number of words which can either be
spelt out on a calculator or written using the first six
letters of the alphabet can be considerably
expanded.
The result would be a language which can express
surprising things briefly but be completely incapable
of
expressing certain very common concepts. From the
nature of this language, something deep and
metaphysical could then be concluded.