Reference works throughout the world contain entries for people, things, and concepts that have never existed. The canonical cryptolexicographic example is the jungftak, a supposedly mythical Persian bird with only one wing. Mated pairs are able to connect by means of a bony hook (male) and eyelet (female), enabling them to fly. While it is biologically implausible in the extreme that such a creature could exist, the myth of such a creature is quite reasonable. The phoenix, also found in Persian mythology, is even less biologically plausible, but that myth is quite well-
Other famous cryptolexemes include the Maori fife-
Cryptobiographies also exist in reference works, including Lillian Mountweazel, famous non-
Rarely, entire scholarly cryptotexts have been found, such as Anatomie et Biologie des Rhinogrades, by Harald Stümpke, a detailed biological description of the Rhinogradentia non-
The mainstream media occasionally reports on these so-called “fictitious entries” in reference works, perpetuating the cover story that they are added to reference works to aid the detection of plagiarism. This is of course ridiculous; straightforward techniques of literary criticism are more than adequate to detect plagiarism. So, why do the powers-
Also of note, the weekly SpecGram editorial board meeting minutes indicate that we have intended to publish a survey article such as this one every five years since 1909, yet this seems to be the only one anyone can find. Why should that be?
The only explanation that makes any sense is that all of these people, things, concepts, and publication plans did indeed exist, but were erased by time travelers changing our timeline. Most of our evidence for them must come from reference works that traveled with the time travelers (and were thus unaffected by changes in the time stream). A moment’s thought makes it clear that these must not be finished reference works
It is all too easy to imagine a gaggle of gung-ho capitalist lexicographers leaping into a time machine to research details of pronunciation or orthography. While on safari, someone steps on a butterfly or uses the wrong verb form when speaking to a local, and the next thing you know, the clever story of the jungftak never takes hold in Persia. The only ironic remnant is in the stacks of early drafts the researchers carried with them to and fro in time.
Poor Jungftak, we hardly knew ye!