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The noun alkali comes to us by way of Africa. The Alk was a largely isolated tribe that lived in Central Africa. The members of the Alk tribe continued to practice a mostly hunter-gatherer existence right up until the mid to late twentieth century.

When the world became aware of the Alk, what they primarily became known for was their peaceful ways. The tribe spent considerable time forming alliances with neighbouring tribes so as to avoid any possible skirmishes. The Alk figured that everyone could best prosper and achieve happiness if they all coexisted in a blissful state of peace. As a result, the Alk also totally eschewed the use of force except in self-defence and, even then, only if there was no way other way than force to defend themselves.

Because of the Alk’s penchant for making allies of everyone to ensure everlasting peace, the word alkali, combining alk and ali (which was short for allies), came to mean someone who vigorously pursues peace. Confusingly, alkali is both singular and plural. Thus, it can be used to refer to one person or a whole tribe or nation, although we, regrettably, rarely have the opportunity to use it in the plural form except when talking about the Alk tribe.

Unfortunately, most vestiges of Alk society have been lost to the world. In 1963, a major, multinational soft drink company learned of the Alk and their reputation for being the epitome of peacefulness. The company thought this would make for great branding for one of its products. Consequently, it signed an endorsement deal with the Alk. Upon receiving their endorsement money, most members of the Alk tribe used the funds to migrate to much more materialist cities and suburbs in much more developed nations. They quickly assimilated into their new cultures, giving up their Alk ways.

As a result, alkali is now often used to refer only to people who were, at one time, supremely peaceful, but whose peacefulness is now lost to the world. So, for example, Mahatma Gandhi could be referred to as an alkali.

Don’t misunderstand the use of Gandhi as an example of an alkali. It’s not necessary to be assassinated before you can be considered to be an alkali. In fact, it’s not even necessary to have died in order for the world to have lost your sublime peacefulness and, therefore, for you to have become an alkali in this sense of the word.

For example, someone could have lived a very peaceful and peace-pursuing life for many years before something in her snapped, possibly because of receiving one too many telemarketing calls, making her unceasingly violent from that point forward. In that case, she could be referred to as an alkali in honour of the earlier, peaceful part of her life.

On a sad note, this definition will, in all likelihood, become meaningless when this project gets around to obliterating the current definition of the word ally (and, hence, allies). Seeing as though that’s another word starting with “al,” that won’t be too far off in the future.

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