Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLI, No 3 Contents Topicalization In Moundsbar—Metalleus

Linguists Seek Increased Funding To Fight Potential Aphasic Flu Epidemic

SpecGram Wire Services

WASHINGTON, D.C.Linguists testified before a joint session of today, raising concern before the lawmakers that the world economy could be crippled by an epidemic of aphasic flu. Linguists representing numerous departments are seeking open-ended funding arrangements that they say provide a chance to mitigate the effects of an outbreak.

Concern the potential for an aphasic flu outbreakwhich would victims unable to communicate and therefore basic human interactionsrose after speculations potentially deadly mutations of H5N1, or avian flu, led to windfall federal spending in vaccination research. Linguists say that another mutation could result in a transmissible form of aphasia, a clinical disorder that effects the production of speech.

“There is an established genetic link for primary progressive aphasia [PPA],” commented Harvard linguist Steven Pinker. “We can’t guarantee that this won’t become a transmissible disease, in the event of a flu pandemic. The science of lateral gene transfer is just too new” Extra funding for linguistics would ameliorate the paucity of research into the area.

linguist David Crystal, himself no stranger to the media, offered a detailed description of the scenario should an aphasia epidemic break out: “Thousands unemployed, corporations in shambles, chaos on the streets.” The rhetoric at times seemed geared to both parties, “The stock market would collapse absolutely, destroying corporate America.” Changing tones, “The hard-working families of America would be unable to collect basic government services.” “Thousands would be unable to vote for their elected officials,” Crystal intoned, adding after a pause, “In fact it might be hard for a voter to re-elect any who voted not to protect against such an alarming and eminent catastrophe. Isn’t this an election year?”

Linguists have admitted in private that the risks are fairly small that the virus would mutate, and that the faculty of language would be targeted in particular. Some admitted further that they didn’t actually know what lateral gene transfer was. Others maintained that this lack of knowledge is exactly what the increased funding is intended to address.

“The only reason linguists aren’t researching PPA is that there’s no funding,” offered Pinker, adding that a lack of government funding is endemic to linguistics as a whole. “The entire situation would go away for not much more than the price of a bridge... say, 300 million?”

Sen. Tom Brown (R-IN) was unconvinced. Addressing the oft-quoted MIT syntactician Noam Chomsky, he said, “Frankly, sir, this is a hypothetical disease that we have no scientific reason to believe exists or even could exist. The possibility of a mutation does not admit the possibility of an epidemiclinguistic or otherwiseinto the domain of science.” Chomsky declined to address the senator’s question, citing concerns of the validity of an accusation from a senator who had “demonstrated categorically and as a of policy a desire to maintain imperialistic hegemony over the public discourse.” When pressed for an explanation of his remarks, the professor replied that he would “maintain [his] right to dissent.”

The linguists found a more receptive audience from Representative Bill Jennings (R-MN). The congressman, facing a tight re-election campaign amid allegations of corruption, thought the concern was credible. “I for one will not be found last among a population of aphasics with the feeble excuse that our government could not afford to appropriate a measly $300 million dollars to further research the human language capacity.” His voice raising to the level of shout, he added, “I think a linguist, a scientist, understands the risks associated with underfunded linguistic research better than a senator. We’re not going to leave families unprotected.”

The representative may carry the day. At press time several major newspapers had picked up the story, and CNN was reputed to be at work on an infographic involving a chicken, a dollar sign, and a binary-branching tree.

Letters to the Editor
Topicalization In Moundsbar—Metalleus
SpecGram Vol CLI, No 3 Contents