by Steve Cook
A scientific expedition into the hitherto unexplored depths of Roget's Thesaurus via several remote dictionaries has discovered the existence of thousands of previously unknown modifiers.
The expedition was mounted by Oxford University's School of Text Messaging and its leader, Professor Overly-Wordy was kind enough to grant me an exclusive interview when I cornered him in the gent's loo on the ground floor of the Campus' hallowed Graffiti Building.
Noticing my glazed look, he first took pains to patiently explain what a modifier is:
"In layman's terms," he said, loftily, "a modifier is an adjective or an adverb." and then when my glazed look became double-glazed - I thought 'adjective' was something rude - he even more patiently elaborated:
"An adjective tells you more about a noun. For instance, if you say 'a man', you can add an adjective to describe 'man' in more detail, as in 'a tall man' or 'a stupid man' or even two adjectives as in 'a tall, stupid man."
"And what about this adverb thingy?" I asked, ignoring his pointed look.
"An adverb describes a verb, as in 'he spoke slowly' or an adjective as in 'a very tall man or 'an immensely stupid man.""Oh I see." I lied. "So how many unknown modifiers has your team actually discovered?"
Professor Overly-Wordy then described in detail how his team had unearthed a treasure trove of literally thousands of modifiers that had been lying buried and forgotten since the dawn of social media or even earlier.
There is now a fair amount of evidence, fossilised in artifacts known as "Books", to suggest that modifiers probably once flourished on Earth in vast profusion until a ELLE (Extinction Level Linguistic Event) wiped most of them out and rendered all but a few hardy survivors either extinct or dormant.
The ELLE is now believed to have been the cataclysmic arrival of the "f" word, which is thought to have originated in the deep space surrounding Expletivo in the constellation of Dummandumma and having supplanted more than ninety percent of all modifiers, now dominates the modern linguascape.
A few hardy modifiers survived and these include the likes of "very", "stupid", "big", "hard", "sad", "good" and "nice", and the increasingly endangered "sensible".
Yet few people realise that where "f**k" and "f**ing" now thrive, especially in environments such Facebook, a vast variety of alternative modifiers once existed.
As one Facebook inhabitant explained, "The discovery of all these f**king weird words that once existed left a whole load of us f**king gobsmacked. I never f**king heard of poncy f**king words like "excessive" and "considerable" and don't even get me started on insurmountable or obstreperous. Makes yer fink though, dunnit? I mean, how did primitive people manage to survive on Facebook or Twitter at all when they had to learn - and spell - thousands of different words 'n shit? I'm f**king amazed anyone managed to communicate at all! I mean, why bother when one word does the job of thousands? They must of bin really retarded!"
Professor Overly-Wordy, however, is of a different opinion and sees this discovery as an opportunity to restore diversity to the linguascape.
The University is drawing up plans to seed the internet with numerous once-dormant modifiers.
For instance, terms such as "You are f**ing retarded" will be phased out in favour of "you are considerably retarded" or even "you are of observably limited intelligence", whilst "here is a picture of my f**king awesome cat" will give way to expressions such as "here is a picture of my delightfully endearing cat".
Experts have warned, however, that this reckless approach in which the consequences are not yet fully understood may place the "f" word in danger of itself becoming extinct.
As one researcher told us, "If that happens it will be seriously f**king missed."