A very tired scientist called a press conference Monday to reveal his shocking findings about gelatin.
“It’s sentient,” he announced to a shocked crowd of journalists. “I’ve only become certain of this over the past few days, while staring into the 12 molded-gelatin desserts my mother made for me. I started to notice that the hypnotic motion of the dessert was not, in any way, random, but instead was a form of communication. I think it’s a form of Morse code, but, more study is needed.”
“I believe that life begins as soon as the hot liquid dissolves the gelatin. From there, it gains intelligence as it congeals. The fully set, or “adult” stage, can best be observed when the item is unmolded and placed on a platter. It is this “unmolded” stage that is characterized by language and attempts to communicate with the human world.”
“I started to take notice in the first hour of observation. The cherry-flavored gelatin wiggled and jiggled the word “stop” in Morse code. After that, it was a series of consonants, so, I had to conclude that “stop” is the only word it knew of our language, and that it had resumed wiggling in its own, as yet undocumented language.”
“After 96 hours, I did observe a full total of 5 words which I believe were in English from the other desserts, but I have been unable to determine if they are part of the same message, or individual ones. The words were: cat, carrots, lunch, pot and polysemous. I’ve no idea what any of them mean, or how gelatin learned “polysemous.” It could mean anything. Take “pot” for instance. Did the gelatin mean to indicate a vessel for cooking or a slang term for marijuana? Perhaps the gelatin knew that there were multiple meanings for “pot” and this tells us why the word “polysemous” came up.”
“Given the grouping of words, I cannot be certain what the message might be, but, I suspect it has something to do with food. It seems likely that the English words it knows most clearly are the ones involved with its own preparation, that is, “carrots,” which are sometimes grated and added to gelatin, “lunch” which is a meal for which gelatin might be prepared, and “pot” which could be used to heat water, or hold the gelatin before it is transferred to a mold. “Cat” could simply be explained by the appearance of a cat underfoot, and the maker of gelatin exclaiming, “cat!” in frustration. Clearly, there is much work to be done.”
“It is clear to me that the words themselves and the patterns they make, that long term observation is the only way to notice the motion as words at all. Those who wish to follow my example will need to make every effort to observe them for long, uninterrupted periods of time.”
“At this time, I cannot continue to observe this group, but, it is imperative that the consumption of these intelligent creatures be stopped at once, and that more scientists are needed to learn the language of the species. I ask the scientific community to join me in this exploration. There is always room for Jell-O at the table of scientific discourse. Thank you for coming today.“
polysemous ( polly – SEEM – us /) adj. Greek. having multiple meanings
I'd like to take you back to 1884, when this little Greco-Roman hybrid joined our fine language. But, I can't. Not really. Sorry. Anyway, this word's parents include Greek grandparents "poly" meaning "many" and "sema" meaning "signs." Together, they formed the word "polysemos." It then migrated to Latin, where it changed its name to "polysemus."