The recent scarcity of reports on the linguistic rara avis Moundsbar will, I am sure, be understood by all upon perusal of the present communique; indeed I have placed myself, as the reader will see, in certain bodily danger in order to update the matter.
The existence of the curious phoneme /5/, once erroneously termed a “voiced snore,” and of the square vowels in particular, persuaded recent researchers that their uniformitarian assumptions, triumphant as they had been thus far in our noble discipline, must be suspended in the case of Moundsbar.
Their idea was, essentially, that the Moundsbarian speech apparatus must be different from that commonly encountered. This idea was at first greeted with derision by the scholarly community, but once assurance was given that no one was saying the Moundsbarians were inferior, merely that they were different,
It turns out that all Moundsbarians are multilingual. That is, they actually have several tongues, each equipped with partially separate musculature, and so amazingly dexterous (if that is the correct word) that an individual is able to lift a single garbanzo bean out of a bowl without a spoon, to say nothing of the fact that, in the case of the square vowels, the first formant is actually above the second formant.
Individuals differ as to which tongue predominates; this is now known as “tonguedness” and has some relationship, as yet undetermined, to regional specialization in the brain. There is a tendency toward prognathism and very high cheekbones; even so, a Moundsbarian is very likely, especially when speaking rapidly, to accidentally bite one of his tongues, which is probably the cause of their rather mean disposition and the popular, heretofore bewildering saying, “Sharpness of tooth yieldeth wisdom.”
Several issues are raised here for universals, both linguistic and, one might say, lingual. For one thing, inhalation is phonemic, which accounts for the “voiced snore.” (Yes, I mean exactly that; you cannot predict when a Moundsbarian is going to inhale, and when one does, a token of /5/ occurs. Linguists must simply gird up their loins and deal with it.) The question of whether we are confronting a new species here I concur with Higgins in leaving up to the exobiologists. They have had entirely too much time on their hands, in my opinion. In any event: it is clearly the multilingualism, that is the polyglossia, that produces a great deal of fleshy tissue in the velic and pharyngeal area causing strident ingression of air.
Thorough anatomical studies are being planned; these will of course require more funding, and also a bit of luck. A disgruntled former student of Higgins maliciously spread the rumor that autopsy was to be the preferred stratagem, and now the people tend to scatter when a linguist approaches them, and there has been a certain amount of sniping in the towns. Higgins and I in fact barely escaped from our last visit, and we lost Higgins’s laptop.
We bide our time.