I enjoyed your coverage of the pre-Nara Japanese poem recently unearthed. One thing that interests me is how the pre-Nara loan adaptation of English “dot” was /datto/ and has now, after a mere millennium or so, become /dotto/. (Another puzzle is how the word “dot” made its way to Japanese before the English language...) Perhaps some mysteries must remain unsolved.
We have consulted with our intrepid reporter, Tom Stinnett, and he has suggested that you read “Altaic phonological drift and synchresis of morphosyntactic vashtar-grade infixes” (Miller 1995), which may make the situation clearer, or at least numb you to the point that you stop caring about your current concerns.
We also suggest that you become familiar with the small but compelling body of futurological linguistic literature, particular the work of J. Trones—pay special attention to the Boustrophedon-Plummerfeld Hypothesis, and his report of Loi and Morlock’s future paper on the English Dual.
If, like many small-minded linguists, you find the core tenets of futurological linguistics difficult to accept—particularly chronolinguisitc change via tachyemes—then consider the recent advances in the predictive language change models used to produce the Future English Bible. Perhaps you’ll consider the idea of complex language change models implemented on a now-lost non-electronic Heian-period supercomputer—no doubt built by some sort of 超人, combining the skills of Babbage, Trask, and Hawking—easier to swallow. It’s either that or consider the whole situation more evidence for Nostratic.
Kushtaka’s Descrıptıvısm X! was a thought-provoking (or at least a provoking) article. But shouldn’t that be linguas francas?
Dear Mr. Sawyer,
Would you believe that the SpecGram editorial board actually agonizes over the plural of lingua franca on a regular basis? One of our Latin scholars prefers linguae francae. However, the term is often claimed to be of Italian origin, rather than Latin, so a more etymologically correct plural might be lingue franche. One can argue for lingua francas on the basis that the term has been fully nativized in English and is morphologically and syntactically opaque. If it is more transparent (or translucent even) then linguas franca could be supported, on the model of attorneys general, courts martial or mothers-in-law.
Clearly, we should reconsider amending our house style guide to simply forbid the term to be used in the plural.
Speculative Grammarian accepts well-written letters commenting on specific articles that appear in this journal or discussing the field of linguistics in general. We also accept poorly-written letters that ramble pointlessly. We reserve the right to ridicule the poorly-written ones and publish the well-written ones... or vice versa, at our discretion.
I am sorely disappointed to that there has been no announcement of results or submissions to the intriguing “Missed It By THAT Much!” puzzle from last December.
W. E. E. Grumphie
Dear Notorious P.I.G.,
We received tens of thousands of entries, but most of them were submitted by one I. N. Testine, and were similar to those below, so we scrapped the whole thing.
- “Intersensory Redundancy Facilitates Learning of Arbitrary Relations between Bowel Sounds and Objects in Seven-Month-Old Infants”, by Gogate and Bahrick, 1998, Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 69.2, pp 133-149.
- “Role of experience for language-specific functional mappings of bowel sounds”, by Kluender, Lotto, Holt, and Bloedel, 1998, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 104.6, pp. 3568-3582.
- “The representation of the spectra and fundamental frequencies of steady-state single- and double-bowel sounds in the temporal discharge patterns of guinea pig cochlear-nerve fibers”, by Palmer, 1990, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 88.3, pp. 1412-1426.
- “Learning to Pronounce Bowel Sounds in a Foreign Language using Acoustic Measurements of the Vocal Tract as Feedback in Real Time”, by Dowd, Smith, and Wolfe, 1998, Language and Speech 41.1, pp. 1-20.
- “The difference of the cerebral dominance of bowel sounds among different languages”, by Tsunoda, 1971, Journal of Auditory Research.
- A Dynamical Study of the Bowel Sounds, by Crandall and Sacia, 1927.
- “Perceptual and physical space of bowel sounds”, by Pols, Van Der Kamp, and Plomp, 1969, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
- “Intrahemispheric differentiation of bowels: Principal component analysis of auditory evoked responses to computer-synthesized bowel sounds”, by Molfese and Erwin, 1981, Brain and Language 13.2, pp 333-344.
- “The periodic structure of bowel sounds is reflected in human electromagnetic brain responses”, by Alku, Sivonen, Palomäki,and Tiitinen, 2001, Neuroscience Letters 298.1, pp. 25-28.
- “Role of Fundamental Frequency Differences in the Perceptual Separation of Competing Bowel Sounds by Listeners With Normal Hearing and Listeners With Hearing Loss”, by Arehart, King, and McLean-Mudgett, 1997, Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 40, pp. 1434-1444.
In contradiction to what is stated in Pulju’s article “New Directions in the Teaching of Human Languages to Non-Humans”, about the reason for ending the ur-study by the reputedly open-minded researchers, it seems likely, upon reading between the lines (vertically, of course), that a more probable cause for termination of the efforts would have been the bigoted refusal of the researchers to engage in the “anthropophagic tendencies of yeti.” One of the universal customs of intelligent creatures of all sorts (and even many linguists!) is that of sharing a meal, of breaking bread together.1 A refusal by the (possibly vegan, or at least vegetarian) Buddhist researchers to join in a protein-enhanced feast would have undoubtedly upset the Yeti, thus ensuring their non-compliance with any requested educational opportunities and dooming the experiment to failure.
1 Recall the offer of the giant to the Englishman Jack Beanstalk to share in grinding marrow to make calcium-rich bread.
An interesting hypothesis, but one more suited to careful pondering by anthropologists and historians. We linguists have tableaux to tame and data to ignore. Excelsior!