the circumference of the spoken word
any word is made up of a sequence of lip movements during which the word is sounded.
thus (if we are to take the title of this particular system literally) the circumference of "word" as it is spoken would be a total of the circumference of each lip opening during its speaking.
we can propose then a formula which would give us the circumference of any spoken word.
- the circumference of "w" + the circumference of "or" + the circumference of "d" = the circumference of "word"
when W is the circumference of any word, C the circumference of the mouth opening at the apex of its particular phonemic movement & where 1,2,3 etc indicates the particular phoneme in terms of its place in the relevant speech sequence.
- W = C1 + C2 + C3 etc
immediately upon completing the first draft of this system, which i had tentatively titled THE CIRCUMFERENCE OF THE WORD, i realized the necessity for the more accurate titling which now accompanies it because of two elements: 1) ventriloquism & 20 printed language. these two elements gave rise to two subsequent systems: PROBABLE SYSTEMS 21, the weight of speech (for Rube Goldberg) & PROBABLE SYSTEMS 24, physical contexts of human speech. it is worth pointing out tho that this system is hopelessly inadequate because of the variables present in any group of human speakers. the best one could hope for is a broad enough sampling to enable us to arrive at a statistical approximation of what the circumference of a particular word would be.
Copyright © 1990 by the Estate of bpNichol
Used by permission of Eleanor Nichol
This is a cooperative publication of
Chax Press and
Light and Dust Mobile Anthology of Poetry