On the Bideliciousness in Spaghettiomeatballology—William C. Spiralini and Trenne Jones SpecGram Vol CLXI, No 1 Contents Word Relations—Jonathan van der Meer

Examination of the Raartong Language VI:
The Intoxicational Affix

J. S. S. van der Fort
Geen van de Bovenstaande University

Given that the present study is the sixth in a series, a short recapitulation of information previously presented in van der Fort (2008), van der Fort (2009) and van der Fort (2010a-c) is in order.

Raartong is the name given to a language spoken by a group of approximately 350 natives of the Brazilian rain forest. They were not in constant contact with Western civilization until very recently. Raartong descends, apparently, from late 18th-century Dutch, but has been overlaid with an Algonquian-like1 polysynthetic morphology and grammar. We theorize that, sometime prior to the year 1800, a Dutch trade ship was blown severely off-course and made landfall on the Brazilian coast. Furthermore, we suppose that, being stranded far from home, the strapping young Dutchmen of this trade ship found the native girls irresistible, and the rest is history. Raartong likely arises out of the impression of a pre-existing morphology and grammar upon the Dutch language; we can only surmise that this pre-existing morphology and grammar were that of the natives’ original tongue, of which no trace seemingly remains in Raartong. In van der Grotekont (2009) this historical situation is alternately analyzed as wholesale borrowing of the Dutch language into a pre-existing morphology and grammar.

Raartong possesses consonantal and vocalic inventories identical to modern Dutch, save for the loss of /p/, which in all cases fell together with /k/, which subsequently became [ʔ] before non-high front monophthongs; furthermore, all monophthongs have become lax, while Dutch diphthongs have undergone monophthongization along utterly unpredictable lines. Finally, all instances of Dutch [x] and [χ] have become voiceless bilabial pharyngeally trilled nasal affricates,2 which possess secondary palatalization before front vowels and velarization before all other vocoids. There is not yet an established phonetic symbol for this consonant, so we simply render it as an empty space.

The Raartong word is composed of a root, which is often verbal in nature (save for when it is not), which is perforce preceded by a pronominal prefix; in transitives and certain nouns, the root is followed by a final, which is likewise pronominal in nature. For verbs, the prefix typically gives the person and number of an actor, while among nouns the prefix denotes the present possessor. The final typically imparts the person and number of a goal-object for verbs, and a former possessor (if any) for nouns. The verbal final may be omitted when the goal-object nominal is incorporated into the verb directly following the root. Between the prefix and root of verbs may come an optional preverb, which is often of adverbial meaning (save for when it is not). The prefixes are as follows:

ık- first singular
ıkık- first plural
ʊ- second singular
ʊwʊ- second plural
zɛ- third singular
zɛzɛ- third plural

The Dutch gender distinction among third-person pronouns has been neutralized in favor of the feminine, perhaps due to the matrilineal nature of the Raartong tribe.

The finals are as follows:

-kı first singular
-kıkı first plural
second singular
-ʊwʊ second plural
-ɛz third singular
-ɛzɛz third plural

We theorize that a very strange, perhaps unprecedented, variety of metathesis lies behind the derivation of the finals from the prefixes.

Examples of Raartong verbs and nouns:

ıkwɔrdgɛk ‘I’m getting wrecked out of my gourd!’
zɛzɛadɛlarvlɛk ‘They’re flying like eagles’ (lit. ‘eagle ly fly’)
ʊslɛt3 ‘Your (sg.) wife’
zɛrʊnt ‘Her husband’
ıkslɛtʊ ‘My wife, which was formerly yours (sg.), sucka!’

The topic of discussion in the present monograph is the so-called intoxicational affix, which is a productive element that gives rise to stems denoting the carrying-on of activities while in a mind-altered state. The development and widespread use of this affix is likely due to a cultural peculiarity of the Raartong tribe: each and every tribal member of both sexes over the age of three imbibes, through pipes of wood or clay, the smoke of the dried leaves of a particular rain forest plant called gɛstrak. The effect of gɛstrak upon human cognition has been described as “timeless, sustained ecstasy,” and alternately as “a living nightmare from hell”; in our opinion, it has effects resembling nothing so much as a large dose of LSD on top of a fifth of gin on top of a bad sexual escapade. But still, all tribal members imbibe the substance daily. There is an old saying of the tribe which, translated loosely, goes:

We smoke two pipes in the morning
We smoke two pipes at night
We smoke two pipes in the afternoon
It makes us feel all right (except when it doesn’t)

The underlying form of the intoxicational affix is -gɛk-, with /g/ dropped after a consonant; it most typically comes after a root (or incorporated nominal, if present) and before any final. It is used chiefly to denote an activity being performed under the influence of gɛstrak or a state with co-occurring gɛstrak intoxication. Because gɛstrak intoxication is so common, word-forms without -gɛk- are seldom used; moreover, we had much difficulty in even eliciting such forms from Raartong speakers. They seemingly and simply cannot (or will not) conceive of undergoing the conscious human experience without gɛstrak. The lament zɔndɛr gɛstrak ıkstɛrft! “Without gɛstrak, I would just die!” is frequently heard. Nevertheless, we have managed to collect enough forms to make the following very surprising semantic comparisons:

ıkɔkt ‘I’m cooking sober and it’s boring as hell, someone please kill me!’
ıkɔktɛk ‘I’m cooking while wrecked out of my mind, and whee!’

zɛskrıŋtklıf ‘She jumped off a cliff, in suicidal despair.’
zɛskrıŋtklıfɛk ‘She jumped off a cliff, while trying to fly to the moon.’

ıknʊktslɛt ‘I’m having sex with my wife, and it’s the most horrible ordeal of my life!’
ıknʊktslɛtɛk ‘I’m having glorious sex with my beautiful wife, aren’t you jealous?’

ıkjagt ‘I’m hunting, and having the most oppressive guilt-ridden feelings about slaying innocent animals!’
ıkjagtɛk ‘I’m hunting, kill, kill, kill, take no prisoners, grrrrrrr!’

ʊgıl ‘You’re (sg.) horny, but you can’t even get up the courage to leave your lodge and find some!’
ʊgılɛk ‘You’re (sg.) horny, and you’re a sexual tyrannosaurus!’

The simple addition or omission of the intoxicational affix can thus have profound semantic effects, as evidenced above. There are doubtless other uses of the affix, which will be detailed in future papers of this series.


van der Fort, Karen, “On the Representation of Raartong via Psychedelic Patterns of Tie-Dye T-Shirts”: Journal of the Autumn Institute of Summer Linguistics, vol. 3, no. 4, pp. 109-113. September 2007.

van der Grotekont, Naaktgeboren, “Why That Addle-Brained van der Fort Is Simply Wrong!”: Regional Journal of Pre-Columbian Philology, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 66-70. March 2009.

van der Ongewassen, Anders, “Why Raartong Has Words for ‘One’, ‘Two’, ‘Five’ and ‘Six’ but Not ‘Three’ or ‘Four’ ”: Perspectives in Geological Linguistics, vol. 1.75, no. 3.125, pp. 4-219. December 2009.

van der Roodbergen, Martin, “On the Connection of Nasal Affricates to States of Perpetual Intoxication”: Linguistic Papers in Honor of Timothy Leary, pp. 77-199. Kakschool University Press, January 2008.

1 This insight comes courtesy of Leonard Bloomfield (posthumous personal communication).

2 van der Roodbergen has described this particular rare and elusive sound as “like gargling through a foghorn”; we concur.

3 In van der Fort 2010b we discuss the light which this and certain other Raartong forms shine upon late 18th-century word usage among Dutch sailors.

On the Bideliciousness in SpaghettiomeatballologyWilliam C. Spiralini and Trenne Jones
Word RelationsJonathan van der Meer
SpecGram Vol CLXI, No 1 Contents