Spelling Reform: As seen through the eyes of a child—Yan-Ying Mottainai and Madingle Hopper SpecGram Vol CLXIII, No 2 Contents Spaghetti or Lasagna for Linguists—LSA Committee on Comestibles in Linguistics

Hu ða Æþelingas? or, Who are the Linguists?
A “Monolingual” Analysis

by B. E. O’Wulf
International Linguist-Man of Mystery

I have recently come into contact with what appears to be a very, very conservative dialect of English, spoken in a small town in England. I searched the internet for several minutes and did not find an obvious references to the dialect, so I assume I am the first to study it. I did stumble across references to Kenneth Pike’s so-called “monolingual demonstrations”, and I thought to myself, “Hey, I could do that!” So I did.

After spending about thirty minutes with several speakers, I was able to record and translate part of a story told in the community, which I provide here for posterity:

Hwæt! We Gardena in geardagum,
WTF?! We was gardening in our backyard,

þeodcyninga, þrym gefrunon,
when Theo came a-cryin’, “Them’s goofin’ on her,

hu ða æþelingas ellen fremedon.
them who are the linguists1 Ellen’s so ‘fraid of!”

... then there was a fair bit more that I haven’t deciphered yet ...

Þæt wæs god cyning.
God! That was a lot of crying!

Pretty nifty, huh? I haven’t worked everything out just yet, but you can get the gist of itit’s the tale of marauding linguists who attack a poor woman named Ellen. Poor Ellen!

I tried my technique on another very conservative dialect of English I discovered in a nearby town and got similar results:

Whan that aprill with his shoures soote
Wham! That April, with his showiest suit,

The droghte of march hath perced to the roote,
The druggie had marched, persevered along the route,

And bathed every veyne in swich licour
And bathed himself in cheap liquor,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Of which vertigo endangered the flour.

Whan zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Wham! Zippers reeking with his sweaty breath

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth...
Had inspired in every hotel and in Heath...

The story continues on like this for quite a while, with little coherent narrative or textual cohesionthe perfect Faulknerian literary device to elucidate the complex stream-of-consciousness of the drug-addled anti-hero at the center of the story.

Clearly, this “monolingual” approach to descriptive analysis holds the promise of awesome power for highly skilled linguists.2

1 linguista general term used in this community, seemingly to refer to one or more of the following: a lazy linguistics student, a pompous polyglot, a commie conlanger, a presumptuous prescriptivist, or any other general Neanderthalic ne’er-do-well.

2 linguisthere the term refers to the other kind of linguists: purveyors of Language Science!

Spelling Reform: As seen through the eyes of a childYan-Ying Mottainai and Madingle Hopper
Spaghetti or Lasagna for LinguistsLSA Committee on Comestibles in Linguistics
SpecGram Vol CLXIII, No 2 Contents