A Preliminary Field Guide to Linguists, Part Two
University of Nueva Escranton
The previous installment, dealing with Neoplatonicus and Functionalisticus, comprised a brief discussion of the less problematic genera in the family--less problematic in the sense that their grouping is not contested among those working in this area. This section will deal with two groups whose taxonomic status is a matter of quite some debate; to a large extent, the groupings presented should be taken as tentative, and done largely for the sake of organized presentation (cf. Gnibbes 1998 and Czechzindemeyl 1999 for representative positions on grouping of these species).1 There is wide consensus that all linguistica families are descended from a single precursor species, linguistica saussurii, but the exact relations among branches are obscure. While isolated members of all of the daughter species share significant similarities to the parent saussurii (e.g., a diet supplemented by ethanol), none of the groups do so consistently.
Concentrations in Oklahoma and Texas, but members scattered in low concentrations across startlingly wide range.
May be a singleton offshoot species, although Gnibbes (1998) classifies as being in Functionalisticus. Gnibbes’ argument that the specimens found in Texas and Oklahoma are of the same species as the isolated specimens from elsewhere (e.g. Borneo, the Congo) is now widely accepted. Wide distribution may be due to symbiotic relationship with another species entirely, peripateticus jaarsi. Tagmemicus is most easily recognized by its droppings, which are largely square and which often line up into chains. Droppings widely, though sporadically, consumed by other members of linguistica, particularly among functionalisticus (hence Gnibbes’ claim), but incorporate many specialized terms that apparently make digestion by other species difficult. Behavioral pattern shows interesting inversion of the nulliphagic refluction characteristic of Neoplatonicus: instead of metabolizing unobservable objects to provide resources to achieve reproductive goals (e.g. tenure), Tagmemicus metabolizes observable primary food sources to achieve unobservable ends.
Generally a highly social species that reacts well to observation. May deposit droppings near observer; these are always of the same form, a large book with many chapters, and members apparently attach a very large amount of social significance to this act--Gnibbes hypothesizes that it may be an attempt to create cross-species symbiosis patterns, of the type that the species enjoys with peripateticus jaarsi. If the observer is seen to direct attention towards this book, Tagmemicus will almost always continue interaction. Cautionary Note: Occasionally, a program-like dropping called a “RAP” is deposited instead (etymology of name unclear). Avoid contact, and wash hands thoroughly if contact unavoidable.
Widely distributed in low numbers.
Whether this is a singleton species or a genus with one surviving member is unclear--certain now-extinct species, such as karlusfriesi, seem to have been either precursors or related (cf. Czechzindemeyl 1985). Immediately recognizable by its food-storage structures: while many linguistica species build structures to store primary food sources (e.g., the “lexicons” of the neoplatonicus group), Corporius members build vast, communal storehouses of truly impressive size. Their internal structure is usually quite simple (the entire structure may be a homogenous pile), but their volume is impressive. One located near Helsinki has been investigated thoroughly, and has been shown to contain fossilized elements dating as far back as c. 900 c.e. (it is tall enough to completely block sunlight to the north, rendering several acres uncultivatable; fortunately, the Finnish government bought the land and made it into a preserve). A fully social species, corporius members usually display no aggressive behavior towards other members using the same food-store, although isolated examples of exclusionary behavior have been observed. Droppings of corporius are characterized by inclusion of mathematical elements; unlike the droppings of neoplatonicus, these appear to be similar or identical to real mathematics, and some scholars (Gnibbes 1998 being a good example) have argued that corporius may be a rare example of cross-family fertility between mathematica and linguistica.2
A species that manages to be simultaneously social and reclusive, corporius is best observed in its native habitat: small dark offices with high-speed fiber optic networks. May become skittish in presence of observers, but providing primary food items (Jolt Cola and Doritos, for example) usually calms them down.
1 I am discounting the rather humorous unpleasantness at the last SSL meeting in which a certain Marcus Schelkvekker, claiming to be a psychic channeling the ghost of J. Greenberg, claimed that all linguistica could be divided into three major groups. The author would, however, like to give him entertainment kudos for doing so in Latin (Linguistica est omnis divisa in partes tres).
2 Since cross-family fertility would destroy the basis of all traditional biological taxonomy, the author is not basing the current discussion on the hypothesis.