I asked how bad it could really be, and he showed me some home video he had taken on the trip. My first comment was that he needed a better digital camcorder, because there was a terrible buzzing noise, and that a wind filter would clear that up. He pointed out that the recording was made indoors and then claimed that the buzzing noise was actually the cousins’ nasal vowels. I didn’t believe it at first, but after carefully noting when the sounds occurred, it became clear that they did coincide with nasal vowels. Is it possible that such a sound could be coming out of a human’s head!?
I’m not a linguist—I subscribed to SpecGram back in the 70’s when each issue featured a racy centerfold—but I’ve picked up enough in the last few decades to know you guys are the best ones to answer my question.
Ahh... those 1970’s centerfolds! A favorite in the SpecGram editorial offices is, naturally, Noamette Chomskie (a pseudonym, of course; she was born Nympholepsy Nullifidians). Those photos of her really get one thinking about, uh, shall we say, “copulas”. Be that as it may, “Noamette” was born in Québec, and while she was something to behold, she quickly lost all of her charm when she opened her mouth to speak.
Back to your main question, the technical, descriptive linguistic term for the nasalized buzzing of Québécois French is “annoying” (a term ultimately derived, through a borrowing into Basque, from Finnish nenäontelo, meaning “nasal cavity”), or, in the case of particularly sonorant nasalized buzzing, “frickin’ annoying” (the modifier is derived from Swedish frikativa, “fricative”).
The extreme buzzing sound would be a mystery to modern phoneticians were it not for the work of Bedeauinguie d’Épâcquetinque, a 17th-
A significantly more recent study of the phenomenon was made in the late 1970’s (around the time of Noamette’s appearance in SpecGram, no less), by noted Ontarian filmmaker-
I have followed with interest the recent discussions of linguistic big crunches, rips, freezes, bounces, and singularities and multiverses. As a physicist-
Dear Stan, (if that is your real name)
Within the field of physics, as you surely know, many question whether “string theory” is actually a scientific theory, or merely an ascientific descriptive framework, since it doesn’t seem to make any testable predictions. Admittedly, the bar for “scienceness” is slightly lower in linguistics than in theoretical physics, but we’ve had enough of that “descriptive-
I can’t believe serieses isn’t a word. You learn something every day.
Dear Rebecca, (if that is your real name)
Oh, you can make serieses a word. One person is a person, but a group of them are people. However, peoples refers to certain collection of groups of people, e.g., the peoples of the earth. Let’s call that a meta-
Dear Speculative Grammarian,
I was watching a crime show on TV and there was a mention of three “decapitated heads” being found. As I understand it, to decapitate is to remove the head from something. Beheaded heads?
Dear Anita, (if that is your real name)
While, strictly speaking, “decapitated” pretty much means “beheaded”, there’s a good semantic point to the confusion, especially in the context of Crime Scene Linguistics. A bodiless head could be part of a rotting corpse, leftovers from a wild animal’s meal, or evidence of a ninja attack. “Decapitated” would only apply to the last of those three. Crime scene investigators are busy and probably don’t have time to say something longer, yet more correct, like “three bodiless heads of victims of decapitation and/or over-
Speculative Grammarian accepts well-