An Introduction to Cagian Linguistics—Various Authors SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 1 Contents Everything Linguists Ever Wanted To Know About Prime Numbers—but really shouldn’t have asked—A. Nonymous, Linguist

Phonetic Evaporation and Precipitation
The greatest linguistic discovery of the new century1

Trey Jones
l’École de SpecGram, Washington D.C.

As is well known in physics circles, mass, energy, momentum, charge, quantum color, quantum flavor, baryon number, lepton number, parity, and probability density are all conserved, and cannot be created or destroyed in normal (non-relativistic, non-nuclear, non–science-fiction) circumstances, despite any number of physical transformations a system may undergo. Why shouldn’t linguistics have its own conservation laws? An obvious candidate is phonological conservationunderlying forms remain constant throughout the conversion to surface phonetic forms. It is so obvious, in fact, that if it were the subject of this paper, the paper would have to conclude now.

Instead, let us consider phonetic conservation. That’s right, those flimsy little surface forms that have almost no consequence in linguistic theory. They are conserved. Let us consider two examples.

First, when a Bostonian “pahks his cah in Hahvahd yahd”, the missing /r/’s are not lost. Instead, they evaporate, aerosolizing and floating up into the æther. They travel with the prevailing dialect currents and precipitate down in Texas and other places, where people “warsh” clothes, dishes, and cars, and cook “squarsh”. In this case, the /r/ is not only conserved, but relatively untransformed and easy to identify. By plotting the prevalence of words like “pahk” and “cah” and “warsh” and the less-common “squarsh”, some enterprising graduate dialectologist could likely map location, direction, and strength of major /r/-carrying dialect currents and readily wring a dissertation from the effort.

Our second example may be somewhat less obvious to those who are not familiar with phonetic evaporation and precipitation, but the evidence is no less firm or clear. I contend that the occurrence of pronunciations such as /jumən/ for “human” of /justən/ for “Houston” lead directly to pronunciations like /nju/ for “new”. In this case the connection is perhaps muddled by those who do not realize that laws of conservation do not preclude transformation. In this case, /h/’s in initial /hj/clusters assimilate to the following /j/. Of course, /j:umən/ is even sillier-sounding than /jumən/, so the extra /j/’s evaporate, later to precipitate into forms like /nju/ and /tjun/.

Many native speakers don’t particularly like these pronunciations. The underlying reason for this is that they recognize the lack of phonetic balance in such words. Whether /r/-heavy or /r/-light, the sound is still off-kilter. The phonetics and phonemics are misaligned, leading to a perceptible discord. The revulsion some feel is perhaps misplaced in the case of the precipitatees (the /r/- and /j/-heavy speakers). If only the /r/-light and /hj/-less speakers controlled their phone emissions, /r/- and /j/-heavy dialects wouldn’t have to speak as they do to scrub the excess phonoparticulates from the phonetiferous æther.

I will have to save the full details of my most important evaporative/precipitative connection for a future paper, but I can provide a brief glimpse by stating that I have irrefutable proof that the evaporation of // from /juʒuəli/ (giving /juʒli/ for “usually”) leads directly to the precipitation of /x/ in forms like /kxlɪər/ for “clear” or /kxlin/ for “clean”.

All that’s left is for the Nobel Committee to establish a Prize for Linguistics and award it to me.

1 I don’t like the title of your article, either. Neither does Keith Slater.

An Introduction to Cagian LinguisticsVarious Authors
Everything Linguists Ever Wanted To Know About Prime Numbersbut really shouldn’t have askedA. Nonymous, Linguist
SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 1 Contents