The Linguistic Big Bounce
by Dyman Freeson
Duque Cornhell University
I have watched with horror over the last several issues as the wrong-headed, ill-conceived, tripe-laden discussion of the ultimate fate of the linguoverse has unfolded in the pages of this once proud journal. Block’s Linguistic Big Crunch, Saygone’s Linguistic Big Rip, Tipler and Barrow’s Linguistic Big Freeze—all are once-enlightening but no-longer–enlightened models of our linguistic future. Tipler and Barrow’s description of the Linguistic Big Freeze is relatively sound, but relies too heavily on the physics-based metaphor on which it was built. Unlike the physical universe, energy and entropy in the human linguoverse are not necessarily conserved. Whether the metaphor could be extended to encompass appropriate concepts of loop quantum grammar or fluctuations in the pronunciation of quantum phones is an interesting question, but the answer is not necessary to understand the true linguistic situation.
The imperialistic hegemony of English is undeniable, and likely inevitable, but the very ubiquitous communicative networks which Tipler and Barrow cite as a homogenizing force are in fact the very medium and the method of innovation, the increased energy that will counteract any trend toward a Linguistic Big Freeze, resulting in another iteration of the cyclic Linguistic Big Bounce. Another Big Bang, increasing energy and entropy, is the psycholinguistically obvious sociolinguistic response to the rigidity of the prescriptive circumstances Tipler and Barrow describe.
As always, the practical insights of linguistic sociophysics are discounted and discredited by the more theoretically-minded of our linguophysical colleagues.