Speculative Grammarian is proud to present yet another irregular semi-installment in the Linguistic Anthropologic Monograph Endowment’s Bizarre Grammars of the World Series.
’Trilaas Outside Manila!
An Anthropological Linguistic Followup on Multi-Trill Counting0
Bizarre Grammars of the World, Vol. 64½
After our recent article describing the melancholy diaspora of the ’Trilaas, we were thrilled to receive a letter from reader Choës Herfjötur, who recognized the counting song as something her grandmother had taught her when she was a child. She showed Grandmama the article, and discovered that the ’Trilaa are actually a lost group of a tribe known as the Hüzün Hyggelig (from an area in modern-day Turkey). The group was exiled by the main group of Hüzün Hyggelig 350 years ago for being terribly boring.
The trilled counting system which we described in our previous article, and which led to the discovery of the relationship between the ’Trilaas and the Hüzün Hyggelig was originally used primarily in sacred ceremonies of jubilation, wherein participants would count the joys of life. The pattern of trills in counting signifies the deepening importance of the joys in one’s life. Listing fifteen joys, and thus having a voiced triple-trill was indicative of being filled to the brim with joy. The derisive snort of nasal-ingressive-voiceless-velar-trill–zero was to indicate that having no joys was an unlikely and unacceptable state of affairs.
Of additional linguistic interest is the fact that the primary use of the trilled counting system, outside the sacred jubilations, is in the counting song, which is used to teach children the coarticulated trills. To aid acquisition of the control necessary to manipulate the vocal tract in the required way, Hüzün Hyggelig children sing the song as a round (much like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is sometimes sung among English-speaking tribes). The youngest children will, for example, sing only one of the trills, while older, more able-tongued children perform the others. As the children progress, they take on the voicing component, or another trill, until they have mastered the complex timing needed to sing the vocal-tract–twisting counting song on their own.
The more anthropologically-minded among our readers will be interested to note the similarity between the chart with the “sweater-like” pattern that we constructed in our previous article and the pattern at right, which is in fact a frequently-occurring motif in home-made Hüzün Hyggelig sweaters.
The silent-zero Hüzün Hyggelig—forebears of most of the modern-day ’Trilaas—were heretics who thought the state of zero joys should be treated seriously and with solemnity and silence. Introducing the silent-zero into the counting song—used to teach proper trilling technique to Hüzün Hyggelig children—was the last straw, and the sect was exiled.
The ’Trilaas’ ancestral name, “Obliert Rilaasiant”, means “forgettably-boring heretical-silence” in the Hüzün Hyggelig language.
The smaller group of nasal-ingressive-voiceless-velar-trill–using ’Trilaa are actually the descendants of long-lost explorers sent out 150 years ago to bring back the “Boring Hüzün Hyggelig” after the “Exciting Hüzün Hyggelig” finished a 35-year–long party and accompanying 60-year hangover. Once recovered, they decided they really needed “adult supervision”. Unfortunately, that group, too, lost track of the Hüzün Hyggelig homeland, and came over time to identify themselves as an offshoot of the ’Trilaa tribe.
We have contacted all of the ’Trilaa (of both zero types) we have met in the course of our research, and Ms. Herfjötur has contacted the leaders of the Hüzün Hyggelig. Everyone we’ve talked to has agreed to set aside their age-old differences and come together as one people. The Hüzün Hyggelig are providing a homeland to the ’Trilaas, who are in turn providing much-needed technical skill and linguistic diversity to the isolated, rural Hüzün Hyggelig.
Even now a charitable fund is being set up to repatriate the thousands of lost ’Trilaa to their ancestral home in the once-village-now-town of about 45,000 Hüzün Hyggelig, nestled in mountains near Çatal Hüyük, Turkey. The fund is being administered by the Endangered Languages Armamentation Programme.
|Claude Searsplainpockets &
Helga von Helganschtein y Searsplainpockets
|Somewhere outside the Philippines
0 This paper was made possible by LAME grant #алфавит-αριθμός-0.6180339887-ϕ-1, and the obsolete symbols ƺ, ʓ, ƪ, and ʆ.