A Macrofactor Framework for Linguistics Disorders
Compiled by Quan Tûm Wu
Head of the NEOLOGA Committee
The development of the NEOLOGA-1 framework was motivated primarily by research over the past two decades showing that a number of the (many) discrete dimensions along which linguistics disorders (not to be confused with linguistic disorders) could vary showed strong patterns of intercorrelation. Veem and Ploebel’s (2001) landmark study claiming that five major macrofactors could account for most observed disorders, though contentious at first, steadily gained prominence, and became a de facto consensus model with Harblark’s (2009) model, which articulated Veem and Ploebel’s macrofactors with a number of advances made by the “Panthelesian” school of mimetics. NEOLOGA-1 adopts Panthelesian nomenclature, but leaves the macrofactors essentially unchanged:
Ontotactic Introgression Potential (O)
The degree to which entities and the patterns in which they participate can cross from physical to psychological reality. The linguistics “norm” point is conceptualized as a zero value, representing low permeability in both directions. A negative value denotes movement of psychological reality into the physical (as with the range of disorders in which maladaptations of linguistic categories affect health, e.g., INFLenza), with a positive value representing the reverse (as with less common cases in which empirical data affect the structure of a patient’s theory).
The degree to which memes can flow from one memome to another. As with OIP, the zero point is considered to be a rest state with normal “background” flow in either direction. A negative value represents outward, but not inward flow, as with the range of disorders in which the patient becomes an active vector for a model; a positive value represents over-permeability of the patent’s model (analogous to a compromised immune system).
Jargotropic Reification (J)
The degree to which the subject is convinced that the adoption of maximally abstruse symbols and terminology has a real effect on the validity of a model, or a positive effect on its utility. The zero point is conceptualized as a culturally-normed background level of jargon investment, typically signalled by adoption of terminology widespread in the field and mild signs of discomfort when the epistemological status of that terminology is questioned. A negative value is associated with a state of manic abandonment of terminological conventions (in the absence of any other organic cause, such as Frenchness), while positive values represent increasingly greater and more rigid investment.
Identical to the dimension of the same name from the five-factor personality model, except that in LD practice, low neuroticism is considered to be negative neuroticism; all normal linguists are somewhat neurotic, so a median level is considered to be the zero point.
The degree to which an analytic or descriptive behavior repeats itself without any motivating outside input (see discussion of obsessive-compulsive disorder in DSM-V). A moderate level of perseveration, like a moderate level of neuroticism, is normal among linguists, and so is conceptualized as the zero-point. Negative values may indicate an aberrantly conscious application of cost-benefit considerations to analysis, as with the HPSG cluster of syndromes, or (if sudden) signal a jargotic break. Positive values indicate compulsiveness.
Acronymic Reificationalism—The belief (sometimes held unconsciously) that theoretical constructs acquire extra-logical power when represented by acronyms. Formerly considered a disorder, to which some subspecies (e.g. functionalopithicus) are thought to have had partial immunity. No longer stigmatized, AR(D) is now considered an essential attribute for professional linguists, and most departments deliberately infect first-year graduate students; by the second year, a J-value of 0.2 to 0.4 is considered ideal. Still, extremely high J-values (> 0.7) are still considered problematic by some therapists.
Alphasia, Grecophilous—Originally considered a paradigm example of a “pure J/P” disorder; presents as a compulsive tendency to replace descriptive terms with single Greek letters, accompanied by a belief that doing so will magically render the model more coherent and meaningful. More recent research indicates a strong N component, however, as sufferers are primarily motivated by insecurity and a fixation on mathematicians as authority figures. Sometimes confused with kleptotheoria, particularly when the Greek letter appears to have been used to disguise a concept originating from another memome. J = 1; P > 0.5; N > 0.5.
Alphasia, Jargon—Similar to the Grecophilous version, but involves replacement of all language by strings of letter-like symbols. Endemic to a number of locations in England, but outbreaks are common at computer science conventions, a fact which has caused many to propose a connection with Neumavirus infections. J = 1; P > 0.5; N > 0.5.
Atheoretical Documentarianism—A condition characterized by the inability to perform, understand, or care about theoretical linguistics. Sufferers often work with language communities to document and even revive their linguistic heritage, a process that feeds the sufferer’s pathological avoidance of tenure. T > 0.3; J < -0.3; N < -0.2; P > 0.5.
Categorial Delusion Disorder—Patient will “see” or “hear” linguistic units that are not in the environment, e.g. the classic “null phonemes” and “big PROs” that form the staple of the hospital linguistics-ward stereotype. Modern treatments allow most patients to manage their conditions, but observation is sometimes necessary, for example if the patient begins adding the categories to his/her data. Note: the clinician should take care to distinguish this condition from Saussure’s Syndrome, which manifests primarily as a hypersensitivity to absences. O -0.1 to -0.2; T < 0; P > 0.2.
Cognititis—A delusional syndrome persuading sufferers that the label “cognitive” guarantees academic credibility. J > 0.8, although the condition has been confirmed among educators at lower J-levels.
Compulsive Computational Disorder—A high-functioning autism-spectrum condition that manifests as a desire to apply mathematical, statistical, and computational techniques to the analysis of language, and the inability to see the immoral implications of theory-free applications of such techniques. O -0.1 to -0.3; T -0.2 to -0.4; J > 0.5; P > 0.6.
Conlanging—A debasement of the linguistic instinct, possibly triggered in sufferers by a radical misunderstanding of the term “generative”. Conlangers pathologically reverse the natural order of linguistics by creating an analysis and then generating a language to satisfy it. Many sufferers have been helped by Conlangers Anonymous. O -0.1 to -0.4; T < -0.5; J = 1; P > 0.5.
Descriptive Dissonance—A condition characterized by the inability to make grammaticality judgements for fear of appearing prescriptivist. Sufferers, unlike those with descriptivitis, are fully aware that a given utterance violates their dialect’s grammar, but they are unable or unwilling to declare any difference in grammar to be “wrong”. While this is a crippling disease, undergrads are advised to take classes with TAs and professors who suffer from descriptive dissonance, because they are unable to deduct points from essays and exams for poor grammar and spelling. N > 0.6; P < 0.2. Note DDx vs. descriptivitis possible via measurement of blood pressure while subject is reading a particularly bad paper.
Descriptivitis—A form of radical descriptivism that erases the distinction between competence and performance. Sufferers come to believe that every utterance is grammatical, and build their theories accordingly. It is sometimes confused with syntactosis, and has high comorbidity with conlanging; it is in opposition to descriptive dissonance. O > 0.5; P < 0; N > ±0.5.
Frenglideutschism—The inability to differentiate between words for the same concept in major languages. Often accompanied with expansive but meaningless paralinguistic gestures and a 1930s moustache. The most common cause is spending too long in interpreting booths or around bilinguals. O -0.1 to -0.3; T > 0.5; N 0.1 to 0.4.
Frickets—An inability to stop airflow through the mouth; caused by nutritional deficit of +Stop features. O < 0.5. Note: one should first check for absence of needed dentures before making diagnosis.
Gardenopathy—Actually two complementary conditions related to garden path sentences. Those suffering productive gardenopathy are addicted to the production of garden path sentences, even to the point of severe detriment of their professional and personal relationships. Those suffering consumptive gardenopathy have an obsessive need to be able to effortlessly and correctly parse garden path sentences. The earliest stage of the condition is often characterized by frequent muttering under the breath of “The horse raced past the barn fell”, often with wildly differing stress and intonation patterns. A note to modern clinicians treating gardenopathy: early psycholinguistic wards failed to separate productive and consumptive gardenopaths, sometimes resulting in extreme cases of gardenopathic co-dependence. Present-day best practices require strict separation. Both types display P > 0.3; N > 0.2; PG: O < 0; CG: O > 0.
Hyphophilia—A condition in which writers attempt to render the baroque and implausibly long compound NPs embedded in their baroque and implausibly long sentences more comprehensible and less gardenopathic (see above) by over-hyphenating. Severe cases exhibit the liberal use of en-dashes as well. This condition is related to Parenthesesis, a related condition that manifests itself in the use of too many nested parentheses. J 0.4 to 0.6; P 0.2 to 0.6. DDx via punctuation-specificity.
INFLenza—Thought to have functional heads as vectors; symptoms include fever, chills, ennui, and copious bouts of rationalization and special pleading. O < -0.3; T < -0.5. DDx vs. Chomsky Syndrome via fever.
Linguistic Inquisitiveness Social Disorder—A common affliction among those new to linguistics, it is characterized by the inability to turn off the newly developing linguistic analysis portion of the mind or to at least deny the new analysis unit access to the speech centers of the brain. Characterized by frequent conversational interruptions such as, “Can you really say that?” and “Could you repeat that word? I need to listen closely to your vowels.” Extreme cases may manifest as impromptu surveys in inappropriate social settings. O 0.1 to 0.2; P > 0.3.
Linguosatiricalism—A coping mechanism used by maladjusted linguists who suffer from oppositional defiant disorder. R > 12.25; X < -4; ~~ 0.
Neumania—Manifests as unquestioned belief that models assuming individual sequential operations performed on sets of discrete symbols non-problematically describe the behavior of massively interconnected parallel processing arrays. Thought to result from infection by neumavirus strains, hence the name. The chronic form of the disease is frequently accompanied by mild photosensitivity and asocial behavior. O = -0.1; N 0.1 to 0.4; T > 0; J > 0.2.
ORS (Oneiric Recursivity Syndrome)—A condition in which one dreams about a previous dream, which itself may also be about a previous dream, and so forth. Thought to be caused by over-lecturing on syntax. The related affliction “Derridean Oneiric Encapsulation Cascade” is distinguishable by its manifestation of quotation marks. O < 0.2; P > 0.2P.
OTitis—A condition characterized by faithfully mishearing tableauid outputs as linguistic data. Subtype OTitis Media distinguished by delusional perception only from tableaux in PowerPoint slide format. O < 0.5; J > 0.5.
Papalization—Formation of large theoretical camps which tolerate great internal diversity but demand absolute allegiance to a single, charismatic leader (“charismatic” here being understood as “relative to other linguists”). Apparently not a permanent affliction, as no example to date has convincingly demonstrated effective succession within a papalized camp. Sometimes rationalized as a defense against reformational schismaticality. T -0.2 to -0.4; N 0.2 to 0.5.
Periphonitis—An inflammation of the recording equipment used in fieldwork, causing its thin outer lining to retain mucus impervious to UG-violating input. O < 0.8; J > 0.6. DDx via patient’s status as recording equipment.
Phonemolalia—The inability to apply any derivational rules to underlying representations. Leads to input-output identity, i.e. one pronounces the underlying representation. A severe case is Radically Underspecified Phonemolalia. O -0.2 to -0.4; P > 0.4.
Phonolalia—The incessant repetition of non-English speech sounds (especially common in linguistics undergraduates). Often misdiagnosed as dementia. T 0.3 to 0.5; P > 0.5.
Postmodernist Personality Disorder—A condition that is hard to categorize, and may result from either a specific cognitive deficit in logic processing, a more general social compulsion to belong to a high-status group, indoctrination into a cult at an impressionable age, or some combination of these factors. J 0.2 to 0.6, but restricted to in-camp; out-camp -0.2 to -0.6. T < 0; N 0.1 to 0.4. DDx vs. academic marxism sometimes possible via examination of patient’s clothing; those affected by the latter condition will typically be wearing outfits that cost over $250 and that display one to four prominent status markers, while postmodernists may or may not.
Prescriptive Personality Disorder—A common personality defect among “almost linguists” who generally stop studying linguistics after one or two classes. Sufferers are willing to tolerate (and may even be intrigued by) the idea of dialect variation in other languages, but they are unwilling to accept many forms of dialect variation in their own language. Instead, they always perceive their dialect as “correct” and all others as “incorrect” or worse. In the US, very few people speak Standard Written American English, and some clinicians have had success with confronting PPD sufferers with differences between their dialects and some of the more easily understood prescriptivist rules. Not splitting infinitives and not ending sentences with prepositions are common options for easy-to-understand but frequently-violated rules. Many patients are cured. Some reject the traditional prescriptivism as “old fashioned” and maintain the current state of their disorder. A small number of patients have “seen the light” and embraced all prescriptivist rules, becoming prescriptivist evangelical apologists—a condition commonly known as William Safire Syndrome. N 0.1 to 0.6; P > 0.5 (but restricted to “correction” behaviors); T < -0.1.
Punctatonia—A catatonic state induced by the inability to rationally choose between logical and traditional punctuation styles. If left untreated, can result in bedsore-like lesions on the posterior, colloquially known as “Buridan’s ass”. N > 0.2; P > 0.5.
Reformational Schismaticality—Presents as an impulse to form new “schools” under iconic banners which identify themselves largely in contradistinction to existing theoretical camps. Sometimes rationalized as a reaction to Papalization. T -0.5 to -1; J > 0.4; N > 0.2; P < 0 during incubation period, then shifting to > 0.3.
Sebaceous Rhotacism—Syndrome characterized by conversion of coronal fricatives into peculiarly “greasy”-sounding rhotic elements (“Smarm’s Sign”). Diagnostic parameters have not been adequately established, due to extreme difficulty in listening to patient and perceived urgent need for ear-scrubbing afterwards.
Sociolinguopathy—A malady that gives sufferers the mistaken impression that studying language in linguistically naive speaker communities at large will lead to more useful linguistic insights than introspective grammaticality judgements by trained linguists. O 0.1 to 0.2; T > 0.6; N < 0.2.
Superaffixationalisticism—An irresistible urge to multiply terminological variants by means of progressive affixal modifications. J = 0.9; N = 0.2; P > 0.2.
Syntactosis—A condition characterized by fluidity of grammar and laxness of grammatical judgements. Sufferers can, after a very small number of exposures, come to judge almost any construction as grammatical. The condition is exacerbated by jocular use of constraint-violating construction in everyday conversation, usually right after syntax class. Most first-year linguistics students suffer a mild bout of syntactosis when they take their first syntax class, but most recover, inoculated against the disease. Tenured syntacticians usually suffer from extreme cases, but it is not known whether getting tenure as a syntactician encourages the development of the condition, or whether having the condition makes it easier to publish sensationalist papers, thereby making it easier to get tenure. O 0.2 to 0.4; N -0.1 to -0.5.
UGliminism—A sociopathic condition characterised by compulsive all-round name-calling, at the minimal sign of theoretical disagreement. T < 0.5; N > 0.8; P > 0.3.