This article challenges the long-
Linguists have long held that the phenomenon described as “speech” or “talking” forms the cornerstone of human, linguistic communication.
“Speech” can be described as the deliberate flapping of bits of head- and neck-
Despite its complexity and the continued confusion in speech-
This paper aims to highlight the ridiculousness of this “Speech” theory of communication, to propose an alternate theory of language (“Widespread Telepathy”), and to discuss the effects of this alternate theory on Language and the Linguistic Community.
The International Phonetic Alphabet lists 107 symbols. These symbols represent patterns of meat-
Yet we as a linguistic community are expected to accept that in actual connected speech, all of these cleanly-
This “speech” process is laid out by the phonetic community as a straightforward bout of articulatory planning with “occasional” coarticulation and blending, but in natural speech, it turns into a veritable free-
Even more ridiculous is the idea of “Speech perception”, which, despite centuries of study, is still largely indistinguishable from all but the basest forms of magic.
According to research, humans are able to perceive speech in noise, underwater, and using different gases as transmission media (c.f. Chipmunk, Alvin et al., 1958). Speech can be understood when filtered to remove parts of the spectrum, when modified to change the spectral information present, and can even be understood when resynthesized into sine-
In addition, many of the underlying processes of speech and vowel perception have been shown to be present in non-
Finally, we must consider our seemingly miraculous ability to adjust to the massive acoustical differences in speech of children, speakers with different dialects, unfamiliar speakers, and your grandfather whose poor denture-
Given the overwhelming complexity of the “Speech” process and our tenuous understanding (at best) of its possible mechanisms of perception, it is clear that the time for the “Speech” theory of language has come to an end. We must find a simpler solution for the problem that people seem to often vaguely know what other people are getting at when in proximity or on the phone.
Rather than depending on complex patterns of meat-
It is, clearly, outside the scope of the present work to provide any evidence in favor of this assertion or detail the exact nature of this mechanism. However, some preliminary details can be given even at this early stage in our research.
Figure 1: Schematic view of the proposed communication process
When a communication is desired, transmitting humans are sending a series of psychosemantic human organized neural emissions (or “PHONE”s, for short), which are then picked up by the emission acceptance regions (“EAR”s) in the temporal region of the receiving human (see Figure 1). Once the PHONEs hit the receiver’s EARs, they are then subjected to a series of linguistic analyses of escalating abstraction from the PHONE level up, first standardizing them to concept-
Inconveniently, this process requires a shared language among the two parties in communication. We can only assume from this that speakers of different languages think in fundamentally and incomprehensibly different ways.4 This mismatch can safely be assumed to hinge on cross-
It is worth noting that our fear of stigmatization is deeply ingrained (which is not unexpected, given the recent “reboots” of the X-Men franchise in which similarly gifted characters face terrible consequences). As such, humans appear unwilling to utilize this telepathy in situations where speech, or in some cases signed communication, are not possible, whether in a direct or electronically mediated context.5
Unfortunately, with this revelation, there will come grave consequences for the field of linguistics, which do merit some discussion.
Clearly, the strongest waves will be felt in the field of Phonetics, hitherto dedicated entirely to the “Speech” theory of language. However, all is not lost: Phonetics could remain relevant by simply focusing on the description of the nature, production, use, and cross-
Phonology will also be strongly affected by this new understanding. Among many changes, Generative Phonology and Optimality Theory will need to completely abandon their present work, instead focusing on the genesis and nature of variations between URs and the actually produced PHONEs. Due to the extensive and admirable efforts already undertaken in completely divorcing the field from speech, Government Phonology will not be affected by this revelation.
The majority of other linguistic fields will be largely untouched, as they’ve never really wanted to think about speech in the first place.
Although it brings the author considerable pain to announce, it is time that Linguistics moves past “Speech”. We have fought valiantly to find sense in it, but the insane complexity and mutability of speech, coupled with the ridiculous notion that the wildly variable acoustical signal could be decoded into something even remotely approximating communicative information, indicate that we must put an end to this much-
Instead, we must adapt a theory far simpler than “Speech”, that is, that we are all incredibly skilled telepaths who are simply too embarrassed to use our skills without covering it up with a clever ruse. Phoneticians and Phonologists must take note and adapt accordingly, and forward-
Although there will be trying times ahead of us, this realization will lead to more straightforward understandings of linguistics, to progress towards true understanding of language, and, eventually, to a new golden age in our field.
1 This quite clearly demonstrates the need for the Chewbacca noise to be ‘borrowed’ into some obscure and yet-
2 In this process, speech is reproduced by creating sine-
3 Unless, of course, there was a conscious choice by these species to avoid further interaction with us, likely following accidental exposure to back issues of Speculative Grammarian.
4 Yes, this finally proves Linguistic Relativity. You’re welcome.
5 This is unlikely to change in the face of fierce opposition and lobbying from the telecommunications industry.
6 The author’s CV and several high-
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