This is a question based on the thinnest of clues: In the future, an Earth man visits a society that has standardized its English so that there are no irregular forms. The characters say "bes" (or "bees"?) and "dos" instead of "is" and "does", "beed" and "doed" instead of "was" and "did". They scoff at the visitor, who speaks our irregular contemporary English. If I remember it right, there were other innovations, some of which made sense and others that were satirical. I don't remember whether this is a society on another planet or in Earth's own future, but I think it was set in the future in a culture that had branched off from Earth's many years ago.

I could have sworn that this was Stanton Coblentz' Next Door to the Sun (1960), but I recently found a copy of that novel and it's not. Although it does have a visitor from Earth encountering Mercurites whose language has evolved in amusing ways over the course of five hundred years of isolation, its language does not have the extreme regularity I remember.

I probably read this tale, which I am pretty sure was of novel length, in the 1960s or early 1970s. In English.

  • 4
    Maybe Anthony Boucher's novella "Barrier" aka "The Barrier" which you can read at archive.org/stream/Astounding_v30n01_1942-09_missing_fcifc#page/…
    – user14111
    May 9, 2020 at 13:13
  • 4
    Well, that was quick! It's strange that this seems to be virtually the only remnant of memory I have from this story, but I think this is it. Why? Because I know I read Spectrum 4, an anthology published in 1965 that includes this novella, in its first edition. Please write it up as your answer! May 9, 2020 at 13:35
  • Why no, I did not. My bad, DavidW. In other news, I just realized that "Boucher" is pronounced bow-cher, not boo-shay. Drat. Sep 18, 2020 at 12:08
  • 1
    Get ready for another free fact: Boucher wasn't even his real name. Sep 19, 2020 at 3:07
  • Incidentally, what is this "chat" you mentioned? Sep 19, 2020 at 3:09

1 Answer 1


"Barrier" aka "The Barrier", a novella by Anthony Boucher, also the (unaccepted) answer to this question; first published in Astounding Science-Fiction, September 1942, available at the Internet Archive.

It's a time-travel story set on a dystopian future Earth.

The first difficulty was with language.

That is only to be expected when you jump five hundred years; but it is nonetheless perplexing to have your first casual query of: "What city is this?" answered by the sentence: "Stappers will get you. Or be you Slanduch?"

[. . . .]

No man alive in 2473 would have bestowed a second glance on the feloniously clad Brent, but in his speech, he realized at once, lay the danger. He pondered the alternatives presented by the stranger. The Stappers would get him, unless he was a Slanduch. Whatever the Stappers were, things that Get You sound menacing. "Slanduch," he replied.

The stranger nodded. "That bees O. K.," he said, and Brent wondered what he had committed himself to. "So what city is this?" he repeated.

"Bees," the stranger chided. "Stappers be more severe now since Edict of 2470. Before they doed pardon some irregularities, but now none even from Slanduch."

"I be sorry," said Brent humbly, making a mental note that irregular verbs were for some reason perilous.

Later the time traveler learns about the history of the dystopia:

In the middle of the twenty-fourth century, he learned, civilization had reached a high point of comfort, satisfaction, achievement — and stagnation. [. . .] Farthing had regularized the English language, an achievement paralleled by the work of Zinsmeister, Timofeov, and Tamayo y Sárate in their respective tongues.

[. . . .]

It was then that Dyce-Farnsworth proclaimed the Stasis of Cosmos. A member of the Anglo- Physical Church, product of the long contemplation by English physicists of the metaphysical aspects of science, he came as the prophet needed to pander to the self-satisfaction of the age.

He was curiously aided by Farthing's laws of regularity. The article, direct or indirect, Farthing had proved to be completely unnecessary — had not languages as world-dominant as Latin in the first centuries and Russian in the twenty- first found no need for it? — and semantically misleading. "Article," he had said in his final and comprehensive study This Bees Speech, "bees prime corruptor of human thinking."


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