Risto Juola
Ab absurdo, ad libertatem.
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Jul 30, 2009

tri • ple • speak



  1. Sardonic passages that adopt the evasive, hollow, and ambiguous language of obscurantists, in order to ridicule obscurantism.

  2. Sui juris constructs, designed to disclose, or at least cast a voice against, prejudicial and authoritarian proclivities and systems; a critical response to, and caveat against, any linguistic or mental patterns that mask, accept, celebrate, or enforce elitism and jingoism, whether in left, right, lowfalutin, or highfalutin varieties.

  3. Suggestive and evocative language, put forth to promote circumspection and compassion, towards the realization of circumspect compassion.

  4. Allusive and at times preposterous language, consisting of apparently nonsensical phrases, intended to promote Duck-Soupian reflections; boldly honest gibberish.

  5. An arrangement of ideas where the primary organizational principle is not aesthetic per se, but whose intention is to arouse discomfort where discomfort is needed; troubling and hopefully disorienting combinations, made with the aim of inducing one to strive towards hitherto uncharted axial pivots and intellectual parapets.

  6. Quasi-intellectual quasi-prose, often composed in a discordant fit of attempted articulation, resulting in odious (for "absurd" would be too charitable a description), and at times anti-aesthetic passages, designed as such, towards the end of effecting a general mood of discomfiture.

  7. Thinly-veiled, thickly-metaphorised, semi-fictionalized journal entries.

  8. Also called tripletalk.


Triplespeak is a combination of pacifism and empiricism with the "Lingo," which will be discussed presently.

The Lingo

Throughout the 1990's, Martin Lemyre and I developed a style of dry, brazen sarcasm which Martin later dubbed the "Lingo," also known as "Le lingue," also known as "Datang." The Lingo was formed largely as a derivative of, and reaction to, the caustic wit of our fathers, and our post-modern Generation X acculturation.

The primary representational features of the Lingo are its inversion of negatives and positives, and the use of questions as non-rhetorical statements.


The straightforward equivalent of the Lingo question "Yes?" would be "No." The straightforward equivalent of the Lingo question "No, eh?" would be "Of course! Don't be a fool!" Similarly, the straightforward equivalent of the Lingo question "I love you?" would be "Let's not be silly here."

Moving on to a larger compound, the straightforward equivalent for the Lingo question "Mustard? No, no. Mmm-mmm! <Shaking head sternly and frowning dramatically, in order to indicate severe disapproval> Why would I want to put that on my hot dog?" would be "I am indeed very excited about putting this mustard on my hot dog."


The primary, if not consciously deliberated, aims of the Lingo were, and are: (i) to discourage the use of so-called "straightforward" but evasive language; (ii) to provoke interlocutors into a state of cerebration by openly challenging popular preconceptions via the application of an unfamiliar style of speech for which they have not developed a defense, thus forcing them to think while responding rather than passively parroting sub-standard riposte; (iii) to speak openly about any topic in public while remaining secure in the knowledge that only those who speak the Lingo can understand the conversation (which is a plenty handy tool for children and adults alike); and (iv) to reinforce the fact that human arrogance is always to be made fun of, and thus take part in what is sure to be a sociopolitically unacceptable mode of expression -- which is to say, we should all play at our own Praise of Folly; something we might call the Erasmian desiderata.

You see, without adhering to something like the Erasmian desiderata, humans are liable to fall into the trap, and believe themselves not random. Such a person, who manifestly subscribes to the baseless belief that everyone but they themselves are random, is terrifying; wholly, emptily, positively, savagely terrifying. It is they who should terrorize our thoughts, and drive away our sleep at night, not those merely obvious terrors such as Ayn Rand and the United States specifically.


The Lingo was further advanced during the mid- and late-1990's through the works of Jay Greer, Geoffrey Scull, Joel Macmull, Sean Symes, Steve Javier, Daniel Owusu-Afari, and Omar Amlani, thus spawning many confusing modifications and dialects. Perhaps the most baffling dialect was produced by Walter Cooke, who often pointed at others while laughing maniacally, and was just as often the only person able to comprehend his own remarks. This latter condition was of no concern to Walter, and indeed, his singular ability for detached revelry highlights the utility of the Lingo as a device of liberation from any constraints placed on the individual by the community.

Here it must be noted that more than one speaker of the Lingo has encountered a complete stranger, with no connection to a known Lingo speaker, who had developed a similar dialectic on their own. In all cases the stranger came from a similar demography, and the stranger's dialect shared both of the Lingo's primary features (the inversion of negatives and positives, and the use of questions as statements). This suggests that the factors giving rise to a vernacular with features similar to those of the Lingo are influenced by cultural experience, which in these cases were middle class, first world conditions. It is also possible that the fundamental features of the Lingo are fundamental to human expression in general, in particular as described by Harold Bloom's "anxiety of influence" and Paul Fussell's "irony assisted recall."


Triplespeak grew from the Lingo, and shares much in common with its progenitor. However, Triplespeak differs from the Lingo in that Triplespeak is primarily a direct response to, and warning against, Doublespeak -- "evasive, ambiguous language that is intended to deceive or confuse" -- and Doublethought -- "the act of simultaneously accepting as correct two mutually contradictory beliefs." As the reader is certainly aware, it was the name Doublespeak that inspired the designation Triplespeak.

Triplespeak statements are marked by bold rhetoric, making heavy use of metaphor and analogy, and often embedding multiple cultural and literary references. Triplespeak passages often run afoul of grammatical rules, and commentators have remarked that they can be difficult to decipher. This fact notwithstanding, Triplespeak was not designed for ease of use on the part of the reader/listener, but was instead designed to motivate open discourse through the use of improvisation and unexpected word arrangements. In this way, Triplespeak passages function as a sort of rationalized free association, or thematic morning pages.

Thoughts that are organized into an essay may be tidy and organized, but the same does not always hold for our stream of consciousness. We must be careful not to allow this fact to stop us from grappling with or transcribing our ideas, and Triplespeak passages are often used to explore ideas that are in progress and not yet fully formed.

Triplespeak is in part also a response to some derivatives of the Lingo, which themselves internalized a sense of aloofness and prejudice, and came to be used in an exclusive manner in direct opposition to the inclusive sensibilities of Triplespeak (which itself will undoubtedly suffer from similar degenerative processes over time).

Triplespeak, or variations of it, are often applied in other blog types, including commentary and journal entries.


Though certainly not the first ever application of the phrase "Triplespeak," the term came into usage on risto.net on June 10th, 2009, for use with blog entries that did not fit into the existing blog categories of commentary, essay, and journal.

Applications of Triplespeak range from a collection of ideas that rhyme; a narrative based on conversations I've had with others, mixed in with my own personal commentary; a fictional narrative (that does not necessarily contain or express any of my personal beliefs or ideals); a collection of related, if somewhat meandering, ideas and commentary (as described above, in the discussion of morning pages); to random reproofs.


One of the most significant hindrances to communication and compassion is the human tendency toward unreasoned presumption. At best we may only presume to understand the ideas and statements of others, and the exigencies of presumption and necessity often dictate that many of us fail to ask questions regarding our interlocutor's beliefs and positions. The purpose of Triplespeak is to counter this natural tendency, promote active thought, and proportionately discourage the passive acceptance of social norms. To be clear: no criticism is made of society or normalization as such, but rather Triplespeak is critical of indifference, and condemns unconscious and uncritical acquiescence to so-called "received" wisdom.

Nature seemingly, or at least in the human experience of it, organizes the universe into discrete entities, and humans organize these entities into discrete classification systems, upon which human activity is then built. Physics and chemistry, and biology and psychology; on and off; one and zero; good and bad; us and them; liberals and conservatives; teachers and students. Accordingly, the goal of Triplespeak is to examine not only the boundary cases which are presented to us in black and white, or rather darkness and light, but to call attention to the many subtle shades of gray residing in between the obvious boundaries, while also calling attention to the fact that boundaries are often not obvious at all, but quite fuzzy.

The driving motivation of Triplespeak is the notion that a person must never stop asking questions; which is to say: a person must be aware they never stop learning, whether they are conscious of the fact or not, for what is daily experience if not a perennial gale of conceptual hardening, creation, and destruction? To stop participating in questions is to blindly permit Heidegger's they-self to demarcate the boundaries of our intellectual pastures, so rejecting our natural gifts, and thus permitting our more basal, irrational, and prejudicial instincts to act as the violent arbiters of how we shall tarry forth.

The distinguishing characteristic of Triplespeak then is that what you see is what you get. The question Triplespeak prods us to ask is not merely what do you see, but why do you see it.

(Oh yes, Triplespeak is also a vehicle for ranting. Lots, and lots of ranting.)