Guest Post: An Ode to Victor Borge and a Story

Jodie Larsen has a BS in applied mathematics from BYU-Idaho with a minor in biology. In addition to teaching at AcerPlacer, she tutors students on several topics in math.

Børge Rosenbaum (1909 – 2000), known professionally as Victor Borge, was a Danish and American comedian, conductor, and pianist (he was a prodigy) who achieved great popularity in radio and television in the United States and Europe. His blend of music and comedy earned him humorous nicknames such as “The Clown Prince of Denmark”.

One of his most famous bits was called “Inflationary Language,” in which he added one to every number or homophone of a number in the words he spoke. For example: “once upon a time” becomes “twice upon a time,” “wonderful” becomes “twoderful,” and “anyone for tennis” becomes “anytwo five elevennis,”. Since prices keep going up, he reasoned, why shouldn’t language go up too (three)?

I used to watch his routines and incredible musical talent growing up with my siblings and my parents (my mom is a piano prodigy herself!) on gasp VHS tapes. Teaching math as I do, I like to talk about this sketch as a humorous side note when math is becoming a bit intense (if that’s possible?!). Every time I read or create a passage in inflationary language, it gives me the giggles – I can’t help it – I love punny, silly humor! The following is a story Victor Borge was fond of reading in inflationary language – see if you can pick up each instance of inflation!

Jack and the Twoderful Beans

Twice upon a time there lived a boy named Jack in the twoderful land of Califivenia. Two day Jack, a double-minded lad, decided three go fifth three seek his fivetune.

After making sure that Jack nine a sandwich and drank some Eight-Up, his mother elevenderly said, “Threedeloo, threedeloo. Try three be back by next Threesday.” Then she cheered, “Three, five, seven, nine. Who do we apprecinine? Jack, Jack, yay!”

Jack set fifth and soon met a man wearing a four-piece suit and a threepee. Fifthrightly Jack asked the man, “I’m a Califivenian. Are you two three?”

“Cerelevenly,” replied the man, offiving the high six. “Anytwo five elevennis?”

“Not threeday,” answered Jack inelevently. “But can you help me three locnine my fivetune?”

“Sure,” said the man. “Let me sell you these twoderful beans.”

Jack’s inthreeition told him that the man was a three-faced triple-crosser. Elevensely Jack shouted, “I’m not behind the nine ball. I’m a college gradunine, and I know what rights our fivefathers crenined in the Constithreetion. Now let’s get down three baseven about these beans.”

The man tripled over with laughter. “Now hold on a third,” he responded. “There’s no need three make such a three-do about these beans. If you twot, I’ll give them three you.”

Well, there’s no need three elabornine on the rest of the tale. Jack oned in on the giant and two the battle for the golden eggs. His mother and he lived happily fivever after — and so on, and so on, and so fifth.

© Copyright 2000 Annals of Improbable Research (AIR)

Since this article is being posted around Thanksgiving, I leave you with this… I sincerely hope everytwo is able three go fiveth three see family and friends and eat a twoderful feast of fascinineting goodies. I hope your turkeys are elevender and full of magnifidollar flavor. I hear there is an inelevense storm coming so go fiveth with care and arrive in two pieces….. Hang on a third… maybe I should stop befive I go three far…..