Annals of Japery and Notable Articles

Amazon Announces Purchase of English™

By posted at 6:00 am on April 1, 2013 25

SEATTLE – Amazon announced today that it has acquired the English language and plans to fully privatize the world’s predominant mode of written communication. As of 6 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time April 1, anyone writing in Amazon’s proprietary language, now known as English™, will be obligated to pay a “licensing fee” to the Seattle-based online retailer.

The purchase of English™ for an undisclosed sum in cash and stock completes Amazon’s meteoric rise from an online bookseller to a global behemoth dominant in the spheres of online retailing, cloud computing, and digital publishing. It remains unclear who sold English™, though credible reports suggest that Apple and Google had earlier offered to buy the language, only to be outbid by Amazon at the eleventh hour.

“We are pleased to add English™ to our growing family of products,” said an exultant Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. “We just bought GoodReads last week, and we already own along with numerous digital publishing platforms, so buying the language outright was an obvious next step. This way, we will be able to put the Amazon stamp on the creative process itself, rather than merely on the finished product.”

Plans are also in the works to acquire German, Spanish, French, and Mandarin Chinese, Bezos said, as well as several nonstandard forms of English™, including African-American Vernacular English, popular among the highly desirable 18-25 upscale suburban demographic. Bezos denied claims that Amazon has offered to buy the Arabic numeral system, though he said the company could not rule out the possibility of such a purchase “if the price was right.”

Responding to concerns that Amazon’s purchase of English™ could have a chilling effect on literature and indeed on free speech in the English™-speaking world, Bezos said writers and publishers have nothing to worry about. “Frankly, that’s just scare talk,” he said. “We’re not saying people can’t use the language. We’re simply saying that if you plan to write it down, you’ll have to pay us a fee.”

Oral speech will remain free, Bezos said, so long as it isn’t written down or recorded by an electronic device. Every English™-speaking person will be allowed a “fair-use” quota of 500 words per day, which he or she can use to send emails to friends, make grocery lists, comment on Facebook posts, or write self-flagellating journal entries. For those who exceed their daily quota, Amazon will offer a variety of licensing options ranging from a simple per-word fee to so-called Unlimited Scribbling™ plans for novelists, bloggers, and others who can’t stop writing even if no one is reading their work.

Under the new licensing agreement, however, any profit from an individual’s words will belong exclusively to Amazon, and in the event that any written document longer than 500 words finds interested readers, Amazon will lay claim to all earnings the document brings in. If a writer shows signs of building a steady readership, Amazon may increase a writer’s daily quota of free words in order to, as Bezos explained, foster “cultural production” and thus boost shareholder value.

He said there is no truth to


This article has been terminated as its author, Michael Bourne, has reached his daily quota of 500 words in English™. If you wish to reach him, he is at home teaching himself to write in Tagalog.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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25 Responses to “Amazon Announces Purchase of English™”

  1. Anthony Lancaster
    at 9:49 am on April 1, 2013

    I laughed. I cried. I (sadly) didn’t find it unrealistic.

  2. Johanna van Zanten
    at 11:07 am on April 1, 2013

    Well sone, cute, but not altogether in the realm of possibilities. happy April Fools’ Day.

  3. Emma Campion
    at 11:57 am on April 1, 2013

    I’m still laughing but agree with Anthony. Well done, Michael!

  4. tanya grove
    at 12:03 pm on April 1, 2013

    Excellent article. I especially liked the goodhearted ribbing of writers:
    “For those who exceed their daily quota, Amazon will offer a variety of licensing options ranging from a simple per-word fee to so-called Unlimited Scribbling™ plans for novelists, bloggers, and others who can’t stop writing even if no one is reading their work.

  5. Kim
    at 12:37 pm on April 1, 2013

    ha ha ha –
    you’re fabulous.

  6. Julia Fierro
    at 1:13 pm on April 1, 2013

    You ARE fabulous.

  7. David Barron
    at 1:28 pm on April 1, 2013

    I’m hoarding all the adverbs for the coming lexapocalypse.

  8. Dina Santorelli
    at 3:01 pm on April 1, 2013

    This is great. With a quota of 500 words a day, my mother-in-law is going to have to cough up some serious bank. :)

  9. Rob Innis
    at 3:37 pm on April 1, 2013

    Please don’t give them more ideas…………..

  10. Danuta Hinc
    at 3:56 pm on April 1, 2013

    Can I get 50% discount? English is my second language. ;-)

  11. maureen
    at 4:02 pm on April 1, 2013

    Amazon could not be reached for comment

  12. Gladys
    at 5:48 pm on April 1, 2013

    Is this a First April Fool’s Day?

  13. April Fools’ Day Jokes for Writers & Readers - GalleyCat
    at 6:50 pm on April 1, 2013

    […] In a somewhat related note, The Millions reported that Amazon has purchased the English language: […]

  14. TJ
    at 7:27 pm on April 1, 2013

    and here I thought Google would be the purchaser….

  15. AFD News: “Amazon buys the English language” | I Love My Kindle
    at 8:14 pm on April 1, 2013

    […] Amazon Announces Purchase of English™ […]

  16. Eric_of_Florida
    at 8:56 pm on April 1, 2013

    I hear corporations were already buying the rights to rainfall in some African countries even before they bought the votes of Americans….

  17. Doug Shiloh
    at 9:17 pm on April 1, 2013

    If my Mom repeats herself will she get charged or just a one-time fee?

  18. Amy Koss
    at 9:25 pm on April 1, 2013

    I’d tell you how much I loved this, but am too cheap. xo Amy (May have words to sell at the end of the month, if you’re interested) Koss

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    at 11:14 pm on April 1, 2013
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    at 4:47 am on April 2, 2013

    […] month may have began with jokes and hoaxes (one of them being this article by The Millions announcing Amazon’s purchase of the English language) but the following […]

  21. Jeremy
    at 6:08 pm on April 3, 2013

    This rules!!! Bravo!

  22. Erika
    at 12:39 pm on April 5, 2013

    My first comment on the internet!

  23. Shelley
    at 12:04 pm on April 9, 2013

    Is there a “third way” that’s not Big Corporate or Small Invisible?

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    […] digital relationships but many people believe the company behaves with as much integrity in these relationships as Tiger Woods in his first […]

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    […] lordy, Michael Bourne’s poke at Amazon and their desperate need to acquire everything ever invented is just too funny! Pssst, I hear they […]

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