The numerical calculations implied and parodied by Mr. Micawber would be rule-bound transformations determined by the form of the symbols transformed, involving subtraction in the currency of the time. As rule-bound transformations, they can be understood as humanly conducted syntactic processes. In their modified and directly enacted form, the transformations substitute semantically congruent but syntactically dissonant results for parodic and emphatic effect. Semantic labour is understood as mental labour involved in transformations motivated by the meaning of signs. As pattern transformation on signifiers, syntactic labour is finally equivalent in type, scope and power to an automatic computation. Intellectual and semantic labour, with its substantial costs arising from the involvement of educated human labour, over time, with a significant duration, remains protected. Distinguishing semantic from syntactic labour can be used to reduce the complexity and intractability of the judgement to two dimensions while fully retaining crucial distinctions.