sun12mar2006—10w071d19%— 04h25m00s—0utc
  1. A patternist is someone with an unusual ability to discern, manipulate, and enjoy patterns.
  2. A form is a linguistic pattern.
  3. A formist is someone with an unusual ability to discern, manipulate, and enjoy forms.
  4. Formists are prone to strange and seemingly dumb language misunderstandings. A subtle error in form in a sentence can led a formist completely astray. This is often irritating to non-formists — who, as if they wore cognitive sunglasses that dull them to form, remain undazed by its glaring inconsistencies.
  5. It is also common for a formist to stop people in mid-sentence only to point out a particularly beautiful (or ugly) form they just noticed in their conversation or the surrounding language. Non-formists find this offensive and obnoxious. They shouldn’t — to continue the sunglass metaphor, where they see drab colors, formists enjoy vivid hues.
  6. Formists are good at spelling and care about it (even in spite of themselves). They just can’t help noticing it.
  7. Formists make formidable poets, programmers, writers (of all kinds), philosophers, mathematicians, linguists, and translators.
  8. Formists excel easily in school and in academia in general, both having a marked bias towards verbal talents.
  9. Formists learn new languages faster and better than non-formists — to the point that their enthusiasm and natural talent can be seriously annoying and off-putting to non-formists. Even Norbert Wiener, one of the greatest mathematicians of the twentieth century, was overwhelmed by his extremely formist father.
    Thus it was a familiar part of our life to hear foreign languages spoken in the household. My father, indeed, could speak some forty of them. He was so proficient in linguistic matters that his insistence as a teacher on accuracy and fluency had the somewhat surprising effect of almost completely inhibiting the efforts of my mother and of us children to speak more than one language.
    I Am a Mathematician, Norbert Wiener
  10. Formists have a natural bias against non-formists (and vice versa); they often think (mistakenly, of course) that theirs is the only kind of intelligence.
  11. Linguistic pedantry is an occupational hazard of being a formist.
  12. Eemadges is a website for and by formists. So is the lovingly kept Language Hat.
  13. Homo Sapiens is the formist ape.
  14. We live in the age of the triumph of form. In mathematics, physics, music, the arts, and the social sciences, human knowledge and its progress seem to have been reduced in startling and powerful ways to a matter of essential formal structures and their transformations. The magic of computers is the speedy manipulation of 1s and 0s. If they just get faster at it, we hear, they might replace us… Life in all its richness and complexity is said to be fundamentally explainable as combinations and recombinations of a finite genetic code. The axiomatic method rules, not only in mathematics but also in economics, linguistics, sometimes even music. The heroes of this age have been Gottlob Frege, David Hilbert, Werner Heisenberg, John Von Neumann, Alan Turing, Noam Chomsky, Norbert Wiener, Jacques Monod, Igor Stravinsky, Claude Levi-Strauss, Herbert Simon.


    A college student enrolled in economics, once a branch of ethics, will now spend considerable time manipulating formulas. If she studies language, once firmly the province of humanists and philologists, she will learn formal algorithms. if she hopes to become a psychologist, she must become adept at constructing computational models. The manipulation of form is so powerful and useful that school is now often seen as largely a matter of learning how to do such manipulation.

    The Way We Think, Gilles Fauconnier, and Mark Turner (both emphases are mine)
  15. Much (arguably lame) humor is formist in nature. Puns are the quintessential formist joke.
    What did the Buddhist monk say to the hotdog vendor? “Make me one with everything.” * * *

    When the monk asked for his change, the vendor replied, “Change comes from within.”

    Formists just want to have fun.

  16. A formist compliment: “I’m warm for your form.”
  17. Formists enjoy proverbs, sayings, slogans, mottoes, aphorisms, and quotes in general. Have you noticed how trivial and pedestrian they sound when rephrased? Much of what we love in them is their form.
  18. Esperanto is the formist language — a mixed blessing.
  19. Math is the study of patterns through forms. And thus it was so disappointing to find so surprisingly few formists during the time I pursued a Math major.
  20. Algebra is the most formist of math theories.
  21. A classic formist comment: “X is almost a lump of syntactic sugar WP .
  22. It takes a formist to enjoy Toki Pona.
  23. This list of figures of speech is a formist’s field day. So is this collection of aphorisms.
  24. All sitcom dialogues are formist but The Simpsons is specially remarkable. Here are two noteworthy compilations of Simpsonian formist candy: Beyond embiggens and cromulent and Subtly Simpsons.
    Carl [To the MENSA members]: Let’s make litter of the literati! Lenny: That was too clever! You’re one of them! [punches him]
    Episode: AABF18, They Saved Lisa’s Brain
  25. Touch, a language of making languages, is a formist wet dream.
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