The Linguistic Big Crunch
M. Adam Block
In my role as Physologist at the High-Energy Pronoun Accelerator,1 I have been charged with the complex task of determining the physical laws of language. Throughout my long and distinguished career these first three days on the job, I have come to a startling conclusion: the universe of language as we know it will ultimately and spectacularly conclude in a Linguistic Big Crunch.
Previous studies in historical linguistics approached the study of language as if it were a biological organism.2 By tracing the speciation of language descendants from their ancestors, linguists have conclusively proved and extensively mapped a number of proto-languages—even, if we are to believe everything we read, the original proto-human language itself. While I do not doubt these conclusions, I argue that the metaphoric treatment of language as an organism is fundamentally flawed. Instead, we should treat language for what it is: a cosmological concern, requiring a methodological approach more akin to physics than biology.
Two hundred billion years ago, there was one universal language.3 We may call this the Linguistic Singularity. For reasons I cannot explain here,4 the singularity exploded during the Linguistic Big Bang, scattering segments of phonology, syntax and morphology across the universe. As time progressed, these linguistic particles began to coalesce, forming small islands of “language” in the greater void of linguistic space. But as time went on, entropy increased and these islands began to fracture and break into smaller islands. Thus, Proto-Human, which formed out of the explosion of the Linguistic Singularity, eventually broke down further into Proto-Indo-European, Proto-Sumerian, Proto-Klingon, and so forth. Proto-Indo-European broke down further into Indo-Iranian, the Germanic languages, and so forth. Bits flying off from the Germanic language mixed with bits flying off Latin and Old French resulted in Modern English. And here we are today.
As entropy increases, however, language devolution begins to spiral out of control. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the emergence of txtese. In Txtese: Nothing about which to LOL, Aim Pres-Cryptive warns that language is coming unseamed at its hinges. “Language is coming unseamed at its hinges,” he writes. This proves conclusively that language is spiraling out of control.
But there are limits to how far language can expand. This is primarily because of linguistic gravity.5 Already it appears we are reaching the outermost limits of the linguistic universe, and linguistic gravity is now causing language to collapse back in upon itself. The re-emergence of Latin as a language of communication proves this conclusively. Over the next few generations, humankind will begin to revert to its ancestral language forms, passing quickly from Latin to Indo-European, before culminating a hundred and fifty years from now once more in the Linguistic Singularity.
It is therefore vital that we as linguists begin offering intensive courses in proto-languages to ensure older generations (say, anyone 25 or older) will be able to communicate with their children when they are born speaking Latin and Proto-Indo-European. Moreover, we must lobby governments to increase funding to linguistic research institutions to continue research on the Linguistic Singularity. If we do not understand it when it hits, we will no longer be able to understand ourselves or each other. And that would be disastrous.
The fate of civilization rests on our shoulders.
[Proto-Indo-European translation of this article forthcoming in Speculative Grammarian.]
1 A job I got thanks to the great advice in the article “How to Pay for Linguistic Fieldwork” (April 2010 issue of Speculative Grammarian).
2 See, for example, Charley Marlin’s 1823 work The Origin of Language by Means of Natural Selection. Marlin is perhaps better known for his later work Phonetics: I’d explain what it means, but that would be semantics.
3 Personal communication with Papa Chomski.
4 The reasons exist, but as they deal with what existed before language, I cannot possibly explain them to you in language.
5 See C.G. Mba:linda’s The Heavy Syllable: Language and Gravity.