The Voyager probe was a plan to
Go beyond where our human legs ran to
But the linguist in me
Can so plainly see
That the plaque should have used Esperanto
—Col. O. Nihilist
A rare fieldworking dab hand I’d planned to be
So I read all I could of the land I’d see.
But schistosomes, ague,
And bubonic plague mu-
tated linguist to accountant quite handily.
Spatial / temporal / aspectual-
directual / evidential / validational-
aktionsartic / modal / indicative-
verbal categorizational slashes.
—Morris Swadesh III
I muttered, “It’s 'ta.mi.əs 'stri.ə.təs”
When seeing one climbing a tree at us—
The answer quite riotous,
“tə'mi.əs,” quote, “'straj.ə.təs,”
Provoked the poor chipmunk to flee at this.
Van Orman Quine may think he’s funny,
But myself, I would bet any money,
Whenever he starts
With his “undetached parts”,
That gavagai simply means “bunny”.
When it comes to matters of meaning
Which way is your theory leaning?
Are your sememes in charge,
Or are lexemes so large
That the truth we have no hope of gleaning?
—H. Stephen Straight