Geekonics By John Woestendiek Philadelphia Inquirer Wed., January 8, 1997 NEWS BULLETIN: Saying it will improve the education of children who have grown up immersed in computer lingo, the school board in San Jose, Calif., has officially designated computer English, or "Geekonics", as a second language. The historic vote on Geekonics -- a combination of the word "geek" and the word "phonics" -- came just weeks after the Oakland school board recognized black English, or Ebonics, as a distinct language. "This entirely reconfigures our parameters," Milton "Floppy" Macintosh, chairman of Geekonics Unlimited, said after the school board became the first in the nation to recognize Geekonics. "No longer are we preformatted for failure," Macintosh said during a celebration that saw many Geekonics backers come dangerously close to smiling. "Today, we are rebooting, implementing a program to process the data we need to interface with all units of humanity." Controversial and widely misunderstood, the Geekonics movement was spawned in California's Silicon Valley, where many children have grown up in households headed by computer technicians, programmers, engineers and scientists who have lost ability to speak plain English and have inadvertently passed on their high-tech vernacular to their children. HELPING THE TRANSITION While schools will not teach the language, increased teacher awareness of Geekonics, proponents say, will help children make the transition to standard English. Those students, in turn, could possibly help their parents learn to speak in a manner that would lead listeners to believe that they have actual blood coursing through their veins. "Bit by bit, byte by byte, with the proper system development, with nonpreemptive multitasking, I see no reason why we can't download the data we need to modulate our oral output," Macintosh said. The designation of Ebonics and Geekonics as languages reflects a growing awareness of our nation's lingual diversity, experts say. Other groups pushing for their own languages and/or vernaculars to be declared official viewed the Geekonics vote as a step in the right direction. "This is just, like, OK, you know, the most totally kewl thing, like, ever," said Jennifer Notat-Albright, chairwoman of the Committee for the Advancement of Valleyonics, headquartered in Southern California. "I mean, like, you know?" she added. THEY'RE HAPPY IN DIXIE "Yeee-hah," said Buford "Kudzu" Davis, president of the Dixionics Coalition. "Y'all gotta know I'm as happy as a tick on a sleeping bloodhound about this. We could be fartin' thru silk perty soon." Spokesmen for several subchapters of Dixionics -- including Alabonics, Tennesonics and Louisionics -- also said they approved of the decision. Bill Flack, public information officer for the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Bureaucratonics said that his organization would not comment on the San Jose vote until it convened a summit meeting, studied the impact, assessed the feasibility, finalized a report and drafted a comprehensive action plan, which, once it clears the appropriate subcommittees and is voted on, will be made public to those who submit the proper information-request forms. Proponents of Ebonics heartily endorsed the designation of Geekonics as an official language. "I ain't got no problem wif it," said Earl E. Byrd, president of the Ebonics Institute. "You ever try talkin' wif wunna dem computer dudes? Don't matter if it be a white computer dude or a black computer dude; it's like you be talkin' to a robot -- RAM, DOS, undelete, MegaHertZ. Ain't nobody understands. But dey keep talkin' anyway. 'Sup wif dat?" Those involved in the lingual diversity movement believe that only by enacting many different English languages, in addition to all the foreign ones practiced here, can we all end up happily speaking the same boring one, becoming a nation that is both unified in its diversity, and diversified in its unity. Others say that makes no sense at all. In any language.