Linguistics Nerd Camp—Bethany Carlson SpecGram Vol CLX, No 3 Contents The Linguistic Singularity and the Linguistic Multiverse—Mikio Chachu

Canada’s Mysterious Silence

SpecGram Wire Services
Toronto Office

1 December 2010

The Acute Language Endangerment Team (ALERT) reports that language use in Canada seems to have stabilized, after declining precipitously in 2004 and 2005.

In a development that went totally unreported at the time, Canadians severely restricted their production of all oral languages in the fall of 2004. According to linguist Ben Ick Roberts, of the University of Toronto, the causes for this phenomenon are unknown: “We only know that there was a surge of spoken Canadian English just prior to September 16, 2004, and then language production dropped off dramatically on the 16th.” Roberts reports that language use declined to almost nothing over the following weeks, until, on October 13, “most Canadians stopped speaking at all.”

“During the entire winter of 2004-5, Canadians as an entire society probably uttered less than 25 sentences,” Roberts says. “Apparently there was just nothing to talk about.”

ALERT Chairperson Lynn Gwa Frank told Speculative Grammarian that sociologists and anthropologists have been consulted, but that only tentative suggestions have been made as to the possible causes of Canadian linguistic decline. “All we can say for sure,” says Frank, “is that language production began to decline in the autumn of 2004 and fell off to nearly nothing during the winter.”

This apparent disappearance of all languages in Canada, however, was somewhat short-lived. “Canada was a quiet place for most of the spring and summer of 2005,” Frank says, “but on July 13, 2005, Canadians abruptly started talking again. Language use in Canada recovered quickly, and made the final jump back up to normal levels on October 5, 2005.”

ALERT is actively searching, as is your Speculative Grammarian reporter, for any clues to this unprecedented silence on the part of all Canadians. Any insights from our readers, particularly regarding the apparent significance of October 13, 2004, and the other dates which linguists have mentioned, will be much appreciated.

Linguistics Nerd CampBethany Carlson
The Linguistic Singularity and the Linguistic MultiverseMikio Chachu
SpecGram Vol CLX, No 3 Contents