In the 1960s/early 1970s, I read a lot of science fiction short stories and anthologies from Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Isaac Asimov. One of the stories was about an interview for an order of monks who were the keepers of the English language.

At one point, a monk asks an applicant a question and the applicant's reply is "Howz?" which sort of became a joke in my family.

I'm trying to track down this story to give as a gift. Does anyone know the name of it?

  • 7
    It sounds similar to A Canticle for Leibowitz, but I don’t think that has the “Howz?” line. – alexwlchan May 13 '14 at 19:59
  • Thanks, but it was definitely a short story, not a novel. – Lisa Dec 30 '15 at 14:31

You might be thinking of the first short story in Arthur C. Clarke's The Other Side of the Sky. It's called the Nine Billion Names of God and has an interview with a monk at the start who wishes to buy a supercomputer to calculate all possible words which God could be called. It's a long-shot, but might help since it could be that it is a Clarke story since the themes are similar.

  • 1
    Monks, language, interview, short story, C. Clarke - common themes which could lead to the exact story. – BenjaminJB Aug 5 '14 at 11:30
  • 2
    It's definitely not this. – Valorum Aug 5 '14 at 11:31
  • Thanks, but it's not Nine Billion Names of God, either. I've searched using every combination of terms I can think of, and I can't find it anywhere! – Lisa Dec 30 '15 at 14:35

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