I propose early, pre-24th century contact between the Q Continuum (Q-contact) and speakers of Earth languages in Solomon Islands, South Pacific, as evidenced by the presence of <q> in the orthographies of 24 of the 68 languages there, spanning the country from west to east. I describe the sounds that <q> represents in these orthographies, using these correspondences as evidence for five separate Q-contacts. The evidence suggests Q-contact elsewhere in Oceanic, as well as in other language families, as diverse as Indo-
Key words: historical graphemology, intergalactic contact, orthographic esoterogeny, speculative anthropology
Most readers are undoubtedly aware of the existence of the Q Continuum through the historical documentary, Star Trek, and its sequels, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Aspects of Q culture have also been explored in speculative anthropology books. Speculative anthropology is the practice of creating a cultural narrative comprised of reasoned, common sense hypotheses, connections, and generalizations based on what is openly acknowledged to be minimal, suggestive, and somewhat opaque data.
The name Q refers to all members individually and corporately of the race that forms the Q Continuum. While there is a mystique surrounding their seemingly supernatural powers over the laws of physics, time, and space, they are neither omniscient nor immortal, in spite of their exceedingly long lifespans, lasting for eons. These facts become relevant in argumentation below. In their interactions with humans, the Q claim their homeland is an alternate dimension only accessible to them and to anyone they choose to take there. However, even when that happens, humans are shown a metaphorical reality
The Q Continuum book trilogy discusses the past experiences of the individual Q, presenting them as a kind of travelogue. This is the same querulous Q who met Captain Jean-
This paper acquaints the reader with linguistic evidence for pre-24th century contact between the Q and inhabitants of the archipelago now called Solomon Islands. The country is located in the South Pacific about 1,000 miles northeast of Australia. It is inhabited primarily by Melanesians, with smaller populations of Polynesians, plus a number of immigrant groups. There are currently 68 indigenous living languages in the country, belonging primarily to the Oceanic language family, but with a handful of languages unrelated to Oceanic or to each other.
The speculative anthropological accounts of the Q and a historical graphemological2 analysis of the languages of Solomon Islands intersect, leading to the inquiries and conclusions made in this study. Similar to historical phonology, historical graphemology is the study of the symbols used in orthographies, and how these change over time, including their structural properties and their relationships to the spoken language. I demonstrate here that over twenty of the country’s 68 languages manifest <q> in their 21st century orthographies. My claim is that this prevalence provides further evidence of early contact with the Q Continuum (Q-contact), prior to the documented 24th century contact between the Continuum and Captain Jean-
This early Earth contact with the Q was nearly ubiquitous in Solomon Islands, since <q> is found in orthographies across the entire archipelago. That is, starting in Choisel and Western Provinces, representing the Northwest Solomonic branch of Oceanic, <q> is found in orthographies there and continuing to isolated languages of Guadalcanal, Malaita, and Makira-
In the sections below I discuss in more detail the distribution of these manifestations of <q> in specific languages. I elaborate on the implications of these patterns for contact with the Q Continuum in Solomon Islands with regard to frequency and duration of contact. I make inferences regarding evidence of Q-contact beyond the Solomons archipelago, both elsewhere in Proto-
The map shows the distribution of provinces and languages in Solomon Islands. This study starts with Choisel Province, the western-
Varisi [vrs]3 occupies the central western end of the island. Ririo [rri] (Boe et al. 2000), with around 100 remaining speakers, occupies a small area on the north coast. Babatana [baa] occupies the entire eastern end of the island. Note that an earlier name for Babatana was Sisiqa (Ross 2002), giving a clear quorum preferring <q> in their orthographies.
Click for a larger map.
There is currently no report on the orthography of Vaghua [tva],4 which has fewer than 3,000 speakers. At the same time, since it is related to and in contact with the other three languages of the island, it is equally likely that there will also be evidence for <q> in the orthography of Vaghua. In fact, the <q> manifestations in the languages of Choisel Province correlate with those of nearby Western Province, as shown in the next section. This means that all four indigenous languages of Choisel exhibit <q>, with the exception being the immigrant language, Kiribati [gil], spoken off the easternmost tip of the island. It is possible that the influx of Kiribati speakers occurred after Q-contact and that they were therefore not subject to it.
Of the 16 languages attested for Western Province, the following eight are also reported to have <q> representing [ŋg] in their orthographies:
Of the remaining eight attested languages in Western Province, three of them are no longer spoken, and with no evidence of earlier orthographies they can be excluded from consideration for Q-contact:
SITAG 2016 acquaints us with the remaining five living languages of Western province. Among these are three <q> languages: Ghanoqa (also called Ghanongga) [ghn], which is 78.9% cognate with Luqa; Marovo [mvo], which is 41.3% cognate with Roviana; and Ughele [uge] (Frostad 2012), which shares 59.4% cognates with Roviana. The remaining two languages are Mono [mte], which is only 22.8% cognate with Luqa, 19.5% cognate with Roviana, and 26.2% cognate with Gela [nlg] of Central Province, and Touo [tqu], which is only 12.2% cognate with Roviana.
Given their cognate percentages with <q> languages, along with preliminary sociolinguistic inquiry, it is expected that <q> will also be found in Ghanoqa, Marovo, and Ughele. However, Mono has cognates in the low-
On the other hand, Touo (Waterhouse 1927) almost certainly does not have <q> since it is a non-
Several factors combine to account for the fact that fifteen of the languages discussed above all use <q> to represent [ŋg]. I propose that this clear areal phenomenon indicates that the period of contact between the Q Continuum and these language groups involved the long-
We turn now to two more languages using <q> for the sequence [ŋg]. There are six indigenous languages spoken on Guadalcanal, plus Pijin [pis], the language of wider communication, and 'Are'are [alu] a settlement of speakers from Malaita on the far eastern tip in Marau Sound. Of these six languages, only the following two have <q> equated with [ŋg] in their orthographies (SITAG 2016): Ghari [gri], (Ivens 1934), spoken on the western end of Guadalcanal, encompassing both the north and south coasts and encompassing Honiara, the national capital; as well as Doku [lgr], (Unger 2008), also known as Lengo, spoken on an area of the north central coast, which is contiguous to Ghari only at its westernmost border.
In spite of using the same symbol for the same sound as the languages discussed above, it does not require a proposal of identical or additional Q-contact to account for them. While these two languages are contiguous to each other, neither of them is contiguous to the <q> languages of Western and Choisel Provinces; rather there are stretches of open ocean in between, as well as the island of Lavukal where the non-
It is also unlikely that this is a new Q-contact, since the other instances of Q-contact discussed below all show a new sound represented by <q>, rather than the [ŋg] of the extended contact in Choisel and Western Provinces. Therefore, I hypothesize that the Guadalcanal <q> languages are a contact phenomenon, indicating post-Q, inter-
Let’s turn now to quoting scholars about uses of <q> which do not represent [ŋg], in order to illustrate other Solomon Islands contact points for the Q Continuum. The Toqabaqita [mlu] language is found in the very north of the island of Malaita. In it, <q> symbolizes glottal stop [ʔ] (Lichtenberk 2008). But all of the other nine north Malaitan languages use a straight apostrophe for this sound instead, as reported by Keesing (1985) for Kwaio [kwd]; Ivens (1931) for Kwara'ae [kwf]; Featherstone (2011) for Lau [llu]; and Lovegren, Mitchell, and Nakagawa (2012) for Wala [lgl]. The straight apostrophe is also used for glottal stop in the two south Malaitan languages, Sa'a [apb], and 'Are'are.
In light of this conventionalized use of straight apostrophe for glottal stop in the other eleven languages of Malaita, the use of <q> in Toqabaqita is somewhat quixotic. Furthermore, since the use of <q> as glottal stop does not align geographically, orthographically, or anthropologically with the 17 languages where <q> symbolizes [ŋg], this clearly indicates a separate and briefer contact with at least one member of the Q Continuum, as opposed to the apparent extended contact found in the Choisel-
Moving now to southern Malaita, I quell nay-
The orthographic situation for Oroha [ora], currently highly endangered, is unclear. It is said to be 78% cognate with Sa'a and 80% cognate with 'Are'are, languages which are 75% cognate with each other (SITAG 2016). Given these similarities and the lack of a current orthography, it is impossible to determine whether [pw] exists in Oroha or whether it would be represented by <q>. While it almost certainly would have [ʔ], the expectation is that it would be represented by the more conventional straight apostrophe, rather than the IPA symbol or <q>. Therefore, I do not propose Oroha as part of the Solomon Islands <q> continuum at this point.
I conclude, then, that parallel to Toqabaqita, and for quite the same reasons, the Sa'a data indicates a separate, isolated, and brief Q-contact. That is, the use of <q> as [pw] shows no parallels geographically, orthographically, or anthropologically with the languages where <q> is [ŋg]. Additionally, [pw] is sufficiently distinct from [ʔ] to warrant positing two separate contacts on Malaita. Likewise, the location of Sa'a on the southern tip of Malaita, mirrors the isolation of Toqabaqita in the north, and makes single-
Taking the quest further eastward, we reach the island of Makira, which forms the largest area of Makira-
Without question, we find again here on Makira the <q> language situated on the periphery of the island and the presence of <q> has not been passed to any neighboring languages, either by the Q Continuum or through inter-
This brings us across nearly 200 miles of open ocean to Temotu, the easternmost province of the country, where we find the last known occurrence of <q>. Unlike the consonantal representations in the rest of the country, here <q> is unique in that in the common orthographies of the island it symbolizes a high, central, rounded vowel [ʉ] (Boerger 1996, 2007). The grapheme is present with a high frequency in Natqgu (also called Natügu) [ntu], one of four closely related Oceanic languages spoken on the island of Santa Cruz (Boerger 1996, 2007). While vernacular literacy is less developed in the related languages of Nalrgo (also called Nalögo) [nlz] (Boerger and Zimmerman 2012), Noipx (also called Noipä) [npx],6 and Engdewu [ngr] (Vaa 2013), speakers of those languages recognize that the Natqgu orthography can also serve them7 and they have begun to use it to represent their own languages. Consequently, assuming that the use of <q> in the other three Santa Cruz languages will persist, I posit that <q> on Santa Cruz represents one Q-contact, with borrowing accounting for its occurrence in all four Santa Cruz language orthographies.
Note though, that <q> is not present in Äiwoo [nfl] (Næss 2017), located in the nearby Reef Islands, and the fifth member of the Reefs-
While I claim that <q> occurs throughout Solomon Islands, that sweeping statement needs some qualification. There is a huge swath of the country right in the middle where <q> is either not present or is present due to borrowing from a <q> language. The three provinces with no manifestation of <q> are Isabel Province, Central Province, and Rennell & Bellona Province, commonly known as RenBel. Recall also that the two occurrences of <q> in Guadalcanal Province were both attributed to borrowing from a <q> language and were not proposed as Q-contact. Given that, the four provinces together can be said to form a <q>-
In the discussion above I have presented evidence for five Q-contacts in Solomon Islands. These included one extended contact in Choisel and Western Provinces, which also affected Guadalcanal Province, in addition to four separate contacts of shorter durations in the provinces of Malaita, Makira-
As stated in the introduction, as part of their near omnipotence, one quality of the Q is that they can travel through time. This would make it possible for them to have had an effect on the forms of the symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA, through influence on societies where they had a presence. Their knowledge of the IPA would make it possible for them to manipulate <q> and its relationship to other symbols. With that in mind, it is interesting to note that four of the five contacts use <q> to represent sounds symbolized in IPA with a curved letter portion and a descender or ascender, giving them visual similarities to the letter <q> itself. This is even more pronounced when one visualizes a hand-
But we can also extend this curve-
To pursue that idea more adequately, there is, in fact, some 23rd century support for such a hypothesis. This is recorded in the documentary film Star Trek IV. It reports that in the year 2286 the crew of an earlier starship, also with the name USS Enterprise, is in exile on the planet Vulcan. This crew included Captain James T. Kirk and First Officer Spock. They receive an inter-
The aquatic theory is further supported when we look at the Oceanic parent language, Proto-
But Q-contact is likely not unique to the Oceanic languages. It only takes a moment to realize that while *q is not reconstructed for Proto-
Given this need for more data and reliable data, the findings reported on here also have implications for best practice in linguistic fieldwork. For example, it is important to not only collect oral data and transcribe it with a writing system of the fieldworker’s design, but it is also critical to document extant indigenous orthographies, in order to look for further instances of Q-contact. This serves as a critique of previously recommended fieldwork procedures (Boerger 2011, Boerger et al. 2016) and necessitates revising them to also include orthographic data as part of the targeted primary data for a comprehensive corpus. The conclusions reached here also require changes in existing language descriptions to take into account previously overlooked evidence of extraterrestrial contact. In other words, together we must re-examine earlier procedures and assumptions about the history of earth and its languages in light of this research.
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1 These conclusions could not have been reached without hours of research, including repeated viewings of the Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager historical documentaries. The author thanks Daniel Boerger, Alex Boerger and Micah Boerger for their participatory engagement with these documentaries. She also thanks Jori King, Susan F. Schmerling, Paul Unger, and Speculative Grammarian editors for input on earlier drafts of this paper. As always, any errors, quirks, or infelicities remain the full responsibility of the author.
2 Gelb (1952) proposed the term ‘grammatology’ for the study of orthographies. However, Derrida (1967) used the term differently, effectively rendering it unclear as a technical term, which leads me to coin the term ‘graphemology.’
3 In this paper, <q> languages are in black bold font at first mention, while relevant non-
4 In the orthographies of Solomon Islands languages <gh> represents a voiced, velar fricative [ɣ].
5 One logical decision is insufficient to claim early Vulcan contact, but such contact could also explain the Touo resistance to Q/<q> and must not be ruled out as a queue for future research.
6 Noipx (aka Noipä) was recognized as a separate language in early 2016 as a result of fieldwork done in 2015 by the author and a team of research interns, most notably Jeremiah Aviel and Valentina Alfarano.
7 Personal communication, Kennedy Clq.
8 The Star Trek prime directive prohibits members of the United Federation of Planets from interfering with the internal development of other civilizations. This involves not imposing values and ideals, as well as not giving technologies that are beyond the current stage of development of a particular race or civilization.
Map credits: The map Q Continuum Languages of Solomon Islands (shown above and the cropped version on the cover) was prepared by Trey Jones, adapted from the map Solomon Islands location map by NordNordWest, licensed under CC BY 3.0. Additional data from: Michael Dunn & Malcolm Ross. 2007. Is Kazukuru Really Non-