In terms of the highest levels of the United Kingdom’s counter-cultural community, it seems to be compulsory for non-conformists, mavericks, free-thinkers et al to be committed readers of The Guardian (which was nicknamed The Grauniad by Private Eye in honour of the misspellings once common there). Naturally enough, committed Guardian-readers use the special dialect of English known as Guardianese (which is also found in The Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, etc). And there are a lot of such Guardianistas in the counter-cultural community, trust me. So the obvious question arises:
Myriads, myriads, off the wall,
Who is the Grauniest of them all?
I don’t know, but I’d like to propose a possible way (or mode, as Guardianistas might say) of finding out. Accordingly, I will interrogate issues around two keyly committed core components of the counter-cultural community: the semiotician Stewart Home and the æsthetician John Coulthart. Who is the Graunier of this dark, disturbing and dangerous duo? At first glance, it seems easy to answer the question. John Coulthart is gay and thereby earns far more Grauny points than Stewart Home, who is straight and doesn’t, to the best of my knowledge, dress in women’s clothing or owt like that.
But is it fair to decide so quickly? Could we find a more objective test of whether Coulthart is Graunier than Home and/or vice versâ? Could we even aspire to a scientific mode of metricizing the maverickness of this teraticly toxic twosome?
I suggest: Yes. So please read on.
As I’ve pointed out previously, one phrase above all others is characteristic of the Guardian-reading community, viz. “in terms of” (for further details, please see Ex-term-in-ate!). And sure enough, if we interrogate Coulthart’s and Home’s personal websites for data in terms of issues around their usage metrics for this phrase, we discover that both of these non-conformists are keyly committed to deploying it:
site:http://www.johncoulthart.com “in terms of”
About 2,180 results
site:http://www.stewarthomesociety.org “in terms of”
About 123 results
But Coulthart, primâ facie, uses it far more than Home. So is he Titus Graun, Master of Mavericks, Nabob of Non-Conformity, King of the Counter-Culture? (Vis-à-vis Home, anyway.) No, I don’t think we can say that, because we’ve failed to take account of the size of the corpus at the site we were interrogating, i.e., how many words there are (there) in terms of word-count. And how can we do that? Well, Guardianese is a special, non-conformist dialect of English, not an entirely separate language, so I suggest that we can use two standard English words to determine how big the respective corpora are, thusly:
About 8,860 results
About 8,150 results
About 602 results
About 599 results
If we assume that “the/and” are recorded by search engines at roughly the same rate on both Guardianistas’ sites, we have a rough and ready measure of the word-counts there. Now, given that Coulthart’s site uses “the/and” approximately fourteen times more often than Home’s site, it’s simple to calculate whether it also uses “in terms of” more often, relatively speaking. 123 was the raw i.t.o. score for Home’s site. 123 x 14 = 1,722. So 1,722 is the adjusted i.t.o score for Home’s site. Which is less than 2,180, the raw i.t.o. score for Coulthart’s site.
And there you have it: by this crude but effective metric, Coulthart is 26·59% Graunier than Home.
It’s easy to see how this technique might be applied to other non-conformist mavericks, e.g. Will Self, Martin Amis, Norman Foreman (B.A.), et al. But I will leave further application of the technique as an exercise for the interested reader, who may also wish to interrogate issues around further items of Guardianese:
• interrogate, interrogation
• issue, issues
• around (in the sense “about” or “concerning”)
• engage/ment (with)
• community (e.g., gay community, Black community)
• demographic (as a noun – the Guardian-reading demographic)
• reference, access (as verbs)
• committed (e.g., committed Guardian-reader)
• on a daily/weekly/yearly basis
• themed (e.g., a queer-themed project)
• project (see previous)
• pen, ink (in the sense “write” or “sign”)
• core (as adjective)
• multiple (e.g., multiple times)
• absent (as a preposition)
• transition (as verb)
• spike (meaning “rise”)
• mode, modality
• construct (as a noun)
• experience (as a noun – erasure of the cis-normative POC experience)
• meta- (e.g., meta-narrative, meta-discourse)
• complex (e.g., Madonna/Whore complex, white privilege complex)
• in relation to
• deploy, deployment
• component, element
• metric, metrics
• prior to
• über- + adjective
• pivotal (preferably as mixed metaphor, e.g. pivotal voice)
• toxic, toxicity, toxify
• scribe (as noun and verb)
• key (as an adjective and preferably redundant, e.g. key icon)
• purpose (as a verb)
Note: The opening line of this incendiary intervention should have begun “At the highest levels of the United Kingdom’s counter-cultural community…” rather than “In terms of the highest levels of the United Kingdom’s counter-cultural community…” If you failed to notice anything wrong with the opening line, you might want to engage issues around your in-terms-of usage metrics / attitudes.
Previously pre-posted (please peruse):
Proviously post-posted (please peruse):