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Lexical Leavings

by Tom Gally



A semiproverb that seems to be missing from English-Japanese dictionaries and also--despite its Zenness--seems to have no currency in Japanese is "If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Some variations on the Web:
If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one there to see it is it really there?
If a tree falls in a forest and there was nobody there to see it, does it really fall?
If a tree falls in a forest and it hits a mime, would he make a noise?
If a tree falls in a forest on a mime clapping with one hand, could Marlee Matlin hear it?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, do the other trees make fun of it?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one's there to hear it, do the other trees laugh?
If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, is information transmitted?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one's around, do the rest of the trees dance around naked in Satanic rituals?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one sees it, does its wave function become non-localised?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one calls the media, as the environmental activist saying goes, nothing happened.
If a tree falls in a forest, will your investors hear it?
If a tree falls in a forest, it may or may not make a sound. But this much is certain: If it falls in a forest managed by the federal government, it will generate significantly less revenue than if it falls in one managed by a state government.
If a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one there to hear it, will it still land on my head?
If a tree falls in a forest, and it hits a census taker, does that count?
If a tree falls in a forest and hits an Italian, does anyone really care?
If a tree falls in a forest and lands on a politician, even if you can't hear the tree or the screams, I'll bet you'd at least hear the applause.
If a tree falls in a forest, and a TV camera doesn't see it, has the tree really fallen?
If a tree falls in a forest, and it falls on a druid, he shouldn't have taken so much acid in the sixties.
And UPN canceled Head Over Heels -- proof positive that if a tree falls in a forest, and nobody's there to hear it, it would still get better ratings than anything UPN could ever broadcast.
If a tree falls in a forest will Greenpeace hold a press conference?
If a tree falls in a forest that's full of deaf dwarves, will some of the dwarves be squashed?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does the coffee still taste bitter?
(June 2, 2003)