In his landmark text Zixÿ Erwilevö (usually translated as On Humanish Language),
the great Zhylerian philosopher Tirizdi explains everything from
language acquisition to hypothetical phonetics. As the tome itself is
rather ponderous (the expanded second edition contains more than two
thousand pages of text), Tirizdi published several articles which
summarize his points on, for example, phonology, semantics, and the
pragmatics of combat. The present article is a condensation of chapter
seventeen, regarding the way in which words are put together to form
Praise be to the sun, the heavens, and the great sea that cuts us off from invaders and those with whom we would rather not associate!2 In the present text, I concern myself with the combination of words into comprehensible sentences, which themselves can be strung together into comprehensible discourse. I shall begin with a summary of what was known before I came to exist on this Earth of ours, and shall then explain the system for putting words together. I shall conclude with a refutation of other “systems” which, as it will be seen, account for nothing, and signify nothing.
Even without putting as much study into the matter as I myself have,3 it can be seen that words by themselves cannot account for language, as we know it. Observe:
Though werven is a strong word of Zhyler, by itself it can signify nothing.4 Instead, it must be bolstered by a regiment of like-minded soldiers that go into the battle of discourse together as a unit.5 For example:
In order to account for this, scholars in the past have contended that “conversants”, as they’re called in the ancient texts, cooperate in creating a set of rules which govern the combination of words into sentences, and sentences themselves into meaningful discourse.6 These “rules”, they argue, are not created actively, but are rather passive generalizations regarding observed behavior. That is, if one hears the sentence in (2), and understands its meaning to be “The wolf killed the king” (and not, for example, “The king killed the wolf”), then one will form generalizations such as, “The actor of an action comes first, then the one acted upon, and then the action itself”. As one obtains more examples of fluent speech, these “rules” are modified, expanded upon, and grammaticalized. In this way, a speaker may understand a sentence he has never heard before by comparing it to the generalizations drawn from speech which has been encountered previously.
This view of language is, of course, ridiculous.7
First of all, it assumes that a child, born into the world, has the
ability to learn language on his own. Utterly preposterous! Were this
the case, Zhyler itself would devolve to such a degree as to be
unintelligible, and impossible to use. As it is, our instructors must
spend countless hours instructing Zhylerian youth to speak in a way
befitting a citizen of Zhydhe. And yet, with each passing year, the
number who fail continues to grow. If children were capable of
“constructing” their language on their own, without instruction, then
surely they should be twice, if not three times as good
at constructing a language with overt instruction. Clearly, the facts
do not fit the theory. And, of course, if facts discovered in the real
world run counter to a given theory, that theory must, perforce, be
Based on the facts by now known to all, I came to the conclusion that the structure of language itself must be contained within the mind of every newborn child. This raises two important, yet nevertheless answerable, questions. The first is, if children are born with the structure of language in their minds, how is it that they make so many egregious errors when acquiring their language? Second, how is it that the structure of language gets into the mind of a child? Where does it come from? Any theory of language must, of course, provide an explicit answer to these questions. This I shall do now.
The answer to the first question is quite simple. Though children
receive structure from the land of the dead (this shall be explained
momentarily), it does not mean that they know what to do with that structure. Consider a child of two or three that receives as a gift a set of pots with which to cook
Now we come to the second, somewhat more problematic question. That is, where does language come from? It is evident that, at the time of death, an adult citizen of Zhydhe has language contained within his mind. What then happens to this language when the breath leaves the body? And a second question. If children receive the structure of language before birth, where does it come from? Even a fool can see that the answers to these two questions complement one another.
Given the facts above, what must be the case is that language is transferred from the mind of a dead individual to the developing mind of a child in the womb.8 Naturally, then, the structure of the language the child receives must in some non-significant way reflect its source.9 Thus, I conclude that language itself is structured as is the body of a corpse. That is, if one examines a corpse from the side, there are three main protrusions: the nose, the arms, and the feet.10 Given that language is passed on from the corpse to the unborn child, the child, then, expects a structure which divides language into three parts. Given our example in (2), a structure such as that below can be postulated:
The diagram in (3) shows the nose pointing to werven, the subject of the sentence; the arms pointing to pettir, the object of the sentence; and the feet pointing to sayaslar, the verb.12 What this shows is that the corpse points (rather literally) to the most important parts of the sentence. A newborn child, then, receives this information, and thus expects languages to be ordered in precisely this way. As a result, I have concluded that language must be analyzed in terms of corpses. This conclusion has far-reaching consequences for the analysis of Zhyler, as well as the analysis of language in general.
Now, in order to make this method of analysis useful, a structural corpse can be schematized as in the figure below:
As you can see, the structure is rather simple. It, of course, would have to be simple, in order to be useful to a child, as they’re naturally terrible at learning languages. This is partly why even the most incompetent reader will be able to sense the truth of this representation. After all, Zhyler is structured such that the subject is followed by the object which is followed by the verb, and the structure I discovered predicts that this should be exactly what one would expect.
Despite its obvious appeal, there are those that have assailed the structural corpse analysis. Let them talk! The remnants of their empty arguments shall litter the ground after I have explicated my full proposal! I fear no man’s words.
The first argument that was brought against the structural corpse analysis concerns sentences such as those shown below:
As shown in (5), when the subject or object is either “I” or “you”, it is expressed as a suffix to the verb. Where, then, ask my detractors, are the three branches of the corpse? In (5a) and (5b), they argue, there are but two branches, and in (5c), but one. Thus they relate, erring. For I have already determined that language is structured as a corpse, and that the corpse has three branches. We need only look at the example in (4) to remind ourselves of the truth of this analysis. The question posed by my detractors, then, is the wrong question. The correct question is why are there branches of the structural corpse that are unfilled, and in what circumstances may they be unoccupied?
First, it should be obvious that the three branches remain filled, in actuality. In each sentence in (5), the foot branch is filled by the verb. In (5a) and (5b), the nose branch and arm branch are filled, respectively. In (5c), the arms and nose appear to be unfilled. But notice the elements in the verb! For if we look for a subject or object, we find that they exist within the verb itself! The question is, how did they come to be there? The answer is obvious: they must have moved from their original positions into the verb. But why? As all know, Zhyler is filled with suffixes, and, of course, a suffix must attach to the end of a given form. If one tried to use a suffix on its own, what would happen? Well, go ahead and try it! After all, the form of the first person subject suffix is either -um or -üm depending on the vowel that precedes it.14 If there is no preceding vowel (i.e., if the word exists on its own), how will you decide which form to use? You cannot! Thus, the suffixes must move in order to be realized. Both the original and final structures of (5a) can be schematized in the form of a structural corpse, as shown in the figure below:
The analyses for (5b) and (5c) are, of course, similar, differing only in the number of moving suffixes and their placement within the verb.16 Of course, this is a simple matter, as these sentences differ minimally from the original sentence in (2). After all, they each clearly have three elements. What of a sentence that appears to have only two, ask my detractors? Consider the following:
First, let me laugh out loud at (7a). Ha! Is that the best you can
do? Let me ask you: Can one read without a text? Can one sit by oneself
and simply read, perhaps with one’s eyes closed? Of course not! It is
clear, then, that there is an object present in (7a). If one wishes not
to state it, then one may, since the object is understood. In that
case, one fills the arms with a general type of reading material
Now let us turn to (7b). Admittedly, a weaker man may have been
defeated by such a sentence. I, however, am no mere man! Sentence (7b)
has no object, and, apparently, can take no object
But, let us consider this question seriously. An object is that which is affected by the action. In this case, is not the subject affected by the action of being lonely? Indeed he is. Thus, mightn’t the subject also be the object? An interesting theory, you allow, but where’s the proof? Ho, ho! Proof shall you have if you turn your attention to the example below:
In (8), sexa is being emphasized, to indicate that it is the man and no other that is lonely. Thus, even a verb with no obvious object has an object. The structure of (8) is shown below:
And, of course, the same rules apply to moving a first and second person subject into the verb.
But now an interesting “dilemma” arises (or so my detractors would have you believe). For, if it is true that this emphatic structure is available for nouns in sentences with no object, may it not also be possible in sentences with an object? Observe:
Surely this defeats my structural corpse, does it not? Ha! I scoff at the idea. For this is just the beginning. After all, is there but one dead soul in the ground below? No: There are millions. Billions! Why, then, should language be defined by one corpse alone? Might not there be many such corpses that define language? Indeed there might. Allow me to present you with another bit of data:
Observe: The same strategy that enables one to emphasize the subject also allows one to emphasize the object. This would give us five branches, would it not? Five is no multiple of three, the reader will notice. But if we utilize more than one corpse, we can come to a satisfactory conclusion. Suppose that the subject and object were each made of a separate corpse, and that these corpses themselves served as the nose and arms to a larger corpse: the sentence as a whole. This would allow us to maintain our main structural corpse. However, it would leave the subject and object corpses with an unfilled nose, would it not? Ha! Behold!
Words such as le and za invariably occur before any other elements in a subject or object grouping. In this way, they unambiguously signal the beginning of a new noun phrase. Were they not present, the phrase would be unidentifiable. Therefore, there must always be such a word there, even when there is none to be heard. This is common sense.
Additionally, the emphatic elements must also be there, even when they can’t be seen or heard. This is because they always have the potential of occurring after any given noun. The absent words in (12), for example, must indicate that the noun is not emphatic, by their absence. Therefore, there must always be a spot for an emphatic element. And, lo! Look what happens! We have a structural corpse comprised of a nose, arms, and feet, for each nominal compound. The structure we hypothesized might exist, turns out to actually exist in reality. It’s revelations like these that let theorists know that they have performed their jobs expertly, as I have in this case.
Below, then, is a schematic representation of the sentences in (11) and (12):
Thus, what seem to be two entirely different sentences end up having the exact same structure. And, why shouldn’t they? The child expects a simplistic, tripartite structure, and this is exactly what he gets. Notice that, for our own purposes, we might label the various C’s and A’s, and so forth, C1 and C2, or perhaps CSubj, CObj and CSent. Should we do so, however, we would be missing out on the grand generalization! For, does not a CSubj resemble a CSent? That it does! And this is the true beauty of language. At any given point in a structure, be it a larger discourse, a sentence, a noun phrase, or even a word, we see that the elements are structured just like a corpse.18 The child’s ancestors quite literally grab hold of the child’s language and mold it in their image. This truth is of great import, and has far-reaching consequences, as we shall presently see.
Let us return to our example sentence in (8), Sexa kayan res, “The man is lonely”. Notice that the structure of this sentence has changed, in light of our recent discoveries. That is, the noun, sexa, will be the arms of a subject corpse whose nose is filled by a silent word akin to le, and whose feet are filled by the emphatic kayan. This, then, becomes the nose of a corpse whose feet are the verb. But what fills the arms, you ask? A good question, though it’s rather impertinent of you to presume that I haven’t taken this very question into consideration already.
First, let us consider three similar sentences:
These three sentences differ only in the time in which they take place. In form, they differ in the type of suffix found on the verb. Thus, the difference in the suffix corresponds to a difference in the meaning. Therefore, that suffix, and the position it occupies, must be represented by a branch of the corpse. Luckily, there is a free branch in our current structural corpse, just suited for the tense suffix.19 The result is a new structure which is shown below:
The astute reader should be able to follow my trail of corpses to its natural conclusion. For the rest, I shall provide a brief summary.20
Just as a corpse is composed of arms and legs, so is a linguistic
form composed of self-contained parts. I have shown you thus far how
sentences can be broken down into corpse-sized chunks, and how these
can be subdivided further. I have also shown you how some words can be
broken into two parts, such as amlar, “read (past)”, composed of the root am, “read”, and the suffix
Consider, for a moment, the nominal objects in the following sentences:
Even a fool may see that these words may be broken into three separate parts! For example, the word wervener, “wolf (ACC.)” is composed of a root wer, which is meaningless by itself, plus a suffix which classifies it as a land mammal with hair or fur,
Notice that the feet again point to the most important part of the
noun. True, without the root, one wouldn’t know what one was talking
about, and without the class suffix, one wouldn’t know what type
of thing one was talking about, but without the suffix which denotes
what role the noun is to play in the sentence as a whole, the noun is
utterly meaningless, even if it has the other necessary parts
And, if nouns may be decomposed thus, it stands to reason that all other words can be decomposed in a similar way. For example, a verb may consist of a root, a number of suffixes which correspond to the displaced elements which refer to the person of the subject and object, as well as various modal and aspectual suffixes, and the tense suffix, in that order.22
In the end, we will have defined a series of corpses which can be described by that which they are made up of. A brief listing can be found below:
All this should be apparent. But the most fascinating corpses are yet to come!
For if we go from sentence to phrase, from phrase to word, and from word to suffix or root, why may we not go from suffix or root to sound? Consider that all words in Zhyler are comprised of individual parts which may or may not begin with a consonant, must have a vowel, and may or may not end in another consonant. Thus we have the following:
O, reader, do you see what I see! The very sounds that a human produces using language are also constrained by the very same corpses already proposed! The divine mystery itself is unfolding before us! Can you not feel the truth washing over you! And, of course, it makes perfect sense that the maximal spoken form be divided into three, as a corpse. For even the e in eyan has a consonant before and after it. Indeed, each vowel must have a consonant before and after it. In the case of eyan, the consonant is the beginning of the vowel itself. After all, mustn’t a vowel start somewhere? And what is there between the transition from silence to vowel? Whatever that element is, it must be defined as a consonant, for it has not the fluid melody of a vowel. Similarly, in a word like sexa, the word must end in this very same consonant.23 And, of course, using the same example, the consonant x in sexa works as both the end of the vowel e and the beginning of the vowel a. The grand design is further evidence of the truth of my brilliant assertion.
And, if there are still those reading who doubt the power that the corpses that constrain language contain, observe how they handle a truly complex sentence! Below is the corpse network for the sentence Le mÿz üykÿ za oða neskas vÿna yelda palšar ezjez eller, “This horribly sad girl gave that red dress to that ill boy in the house”.24 Observe!
Of course, this is merely the beginning. For is the whole of language contained in a single clause? Surely not! Be wary of any fool that would seek to tell you about how language works merely by looking at one single sentence, and then another single sentence, and then another single sentence, and so on in this manner. For is this how we humans interact: arrive at each other’s homes, speak a sentence, and then leave, like a cat with a fish? Ha! Let those idiots play with their sentence toys: my task is to explain language.
For you see, if a corpse can explain how sounds fit together to form larger strings of segments, mayn’t they be used to explain how a single sound itself may be put together? Consider the position of your tongue while pronouncing a d. The tongue touches the back of your teeth, while at the same time, there is a rumbling in your throat. Further, you concentrate the flow of air through your mouth, preventing it from passing through the nose, as with n. So, what of the pronunciation of d? What operations comprise it? Behold! Its number is three!
And if corpses can explain everything down to the very decomposition of sounds, may they not explain how sentences themselves are strung together in discourse? Consider a casual, day-to-day introduction. Were I to meet an individual for the first time, I would first greet them, then give them my name, and then ask them theirs. Three actions! And the reply? That individual would return my greeting, give me his name, and then inquire as to how I pass my time. Again, the reply is divided into three! And then? I reply that I pass my time in steadfast contemplation of language, I thank him for his interest, and I bid him farewell. Three clauses again! And the number of corpses in the discourse? Be not surprised, dear reader: their number is three!28
I have little doubt that further investigation into the division of the meaningful bits of language into corpses would have profound effects on the study of life itself. After all, are we all not corpses? And, as such, may not every aspect of humanity be, likewise, divided into corpses? Surely it is ridiculous to think otherwise.
Briefly I should mention a few competing theories of language. It should be noted that none of these theories even approach the threshold of explanation that my corpse theory does. For example, Itwindi’s Decomposition Theory seeks to explain nothing about life itself.29 Instead, it is content merely to play around with words and the sounds that are combined to create them. It would describe say, “to die”, for example, as being composed of a consonant, a vowel, and a consonant, not unlike my own theory. However it falls into utter nonsense when describing a word like am, “to read”, as being composed of a vowel and a consonant, completely ignoring the silent consonant with which the word am begins. I made an attempt to point out the foolishness of this approach to Itwindi herself, but she unwisely rejected my criticism. So be it! I have no time for fools.
Additionally, I should mention the theory of a former student of mine, Jeldi.30
Jeldi foolishly decided that, based on sentences such as those in (5),
all corpses should have two branches only: the arms and the feet. Jeldi
was even so impertinent as to try to convince me that his way made
describing sentences of Zhyler simpler! Ha! Well, dear reader, I hardly
need to repeat my proof of the necessity of a tri-branching corpse at
this point. All can see how ridiculous a proposal such as Jeldi’s is.
But I do have this to say to Jeldi, specifically. This day you have
made a powerful enemy. I should have realized that all those times you
kept me up until the wee hours discussing language with me, asking me
questions about this and that structure, and the theories of some such
philosopher, looking up at me with eyes wide as those of a child before
O, dear reader! Now you have read of my thoughts. Like an ignorant child, you came to me in search of knowledge, and I, like a tolerant parent, delivered to you that knowledge which you sought. Let no more your ignorance bring shame to yourself, your family and this world we live in. Go forth and spread the light that I have shone on you, like a beacon to a wayward ship! And to all those who, after having partaken of my store of genius, refuse to believe in the truth I have made plain, I can only hope that the unknown powers of this universe have mercy on you as you rot in your filthy graves, wallowing in the sludge of your ignorance, and the stench of your failure! Should you continue to spread lies about language, and obscure its subtle mysteries, then be forewarned that every instant of every day, every breath that you breathe, will be utterly and indisputably worthless, and that everything you do will be a waste of your life, and the lives of others. Those who cannot comprehend the truth that I speak are but the scum on the bottom of my boots, and, as such, are worthy neither of comment, nor of mercy. May you meet your end bathed in blood like the vile worms you are!
Tirizdi has spoken. 33, 34