Preliminary Report on B—, one of the Tantric languages of Hm-hmumble-rsia—Freya Shipley SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 1 Contents The Lexicalist Agenda—Exposing the Myths—Quentin Popinjay Snodgrass, Ph.D.

A Possible Prional Source for Linguistic Degeneration
from Prolonged Ailuric Exposure

B. Bubo, T. Tyto, S. Strix, and A. Asio

Over the past two decades, an increasing number of adult patients have presented for treatment of symptoms associated with linguistic deficits not characteristic of known neurological syndromes. Less severe cases entailed impoverished vocabulary and syntax, while more severe cases resemble a mixture of glossolalia and ludic language in which most sentences had been reduced to two-word combinations characteristic of early stages of language acquisition in infants. Patients’ homes were examined to no avail until it was noticed that all of them owned cats and displayed the aforementioned symptoms most strongly when interacting with them.

Systematic examination showed that all patients displayed the severer symptoms in the presence of their cats and the severity of the symptoms in other environments was directly correlated to the amount of time they had owned cats; thus, linguistic degeneration starts in the ailuric environment and with time spreads to other areas of life. Indeed, it was dismaying to see obviously intelligent (if rather inarticulate) adults reduced to yammering morons when their cats jumped on their shoulders or coughed up a hairball in their laps.

A fuller description of ailuric linguistic degeneration is here provided for neurologists and linguists to refine through further investigation. The most common symptom is a strong tendency to hypocorism (nicknaming) regardless of commonly accepted standards of appropriate social behavior. As an early example of the severer form of hypocorism (included over the protest of one author), a patient presented to one of the investigators complaining of an inability to focus on his writing; when the investigator introduced himself, the patient responded, “Bernard Bubo? Hey, Bernie Bubo go boo-boo! Should I call you Doc Booby?” (As the examination had not yet started, this is not from the transcript of a clinical tape but has instead been taken from the record of the subsequent trial for assault and battery.)

Another common syndrome is a tendency towards tedious nonce doggerel of a simple formiambic or dactylic quatrains with a simple rhyme scheme, usually ABAB, AABA, or AAAA (what one might call catterel). Examples from our patients include:

(1)    I love my kitty,
My kitty tolerates me.
He is an it,
And it is a he.
      (2)    I’m a-telling you,
My kitty’s full of poo,
And often lets it spew
In a thick and sticky goo.

Examples of glossolalia are legion and their transcription would be unenlightening. In the most advanced stages of ailuric linguistic degeneration, many sentences are reduced to the structure of the earliest stages of children’s speechtwo words, the first either a noun or a negative particle, the second a verb: “Kitty eat!”, “No scratch!”, “Boopsy poopsy?”, “Kitty purr!” and the like. The symptoms of linguistic degeneration among cat owners are probably not unfamiliar to many lay observers; however, they have not previously been recognized as symptoms of inescapable mental degeneration but rather dismissed as wordplay or cutesiness.

The investigators proceeded to examine the brains of deceased cat owners, but no macroscopic neurological damage was found. It was then hypothesized that an infectious agent was the cause. After several years, a prional agent was isolated from the brains of cat owners that was not present in normal brains. To no one’s surprise, this agent was then identified in samples of cat spoor, providing the mechanism for infection. It would of course be unethical to test the effects of the agent directly on humans, so a population of dogs was tested; no adverse effects were discovered, but the investigators concluded the test was poorly designed because dogs are already drooling idiots without higher mental functions to impair. The medical details of our study are in press at Speculative Vivisectionist.

The discovery of the prional agent causing ailuric linguistic degeneration puts a number of social phenomena in a different light. First and most significantly, no one has hitherto remarked on the strong correlation in the rise in cat ownership and the decline in SAT scores over the past three decades; the consequences for public health and education policies are obvious. Second, ailuric linguistic degeneration can be aptly summarized as the Tourette’s syndrome of kitsch; the spread of cat ownership since the 1970s probably explains the decline of quality of popular music into treacle over the same period. Possibly the jazz style known as scat (whose name seems ever apter) derives from cat ownership as well. Third, the stereotype of the old cat lady who takes in many cats to escape loneliness might be seen as reversing cause and effectas she takes in more cats, her social and linguistic skills decrease to the point that no normal humans would wish to be around her. It is essential that ailuric linguistic degeneration be recognized as the serious health issue that it is, so that in future no humans need ever again become mad as a catter.

Preliminary Report on B—, one of the Tantric languages of Hm-hmumble-rsia—Freya Shipley
The Lexicalist Agenda—Exposing the Myths—Quentin Popinjay Snodgrass, Ph.D.
SpecGram Vol CLIII, No 1 Contents