A Review of Wailin’ Jennings’ Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Linguists—Praenomen Gentilicium Cognomen, Esq. SpecGram Vol CLXV, No 2 Contents NEOLOGA-1—A Macrofactor Framework for Linguistics Disorders—Quan Tûm Wu

Language Death by Speaker Rejection—More Case Studies

by William Carlos Williams Carloses Williamses
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies

In a previous article I introduced a new mechanism of language death: that by which languages actively reject their speakers, rather than the other way around. I presented five case studies showing that this rejection is actually quite common.

Since the publication of that article, I have discovered a number of additional examples of this phenomenon, and I summarize them here for those who, like me, crave a deeper understanding of how (and why) a language may refuse to permit its own transmission.

Case Study 6: The Kih Lurty Language

Kih Lurty is a language once spoken by a few tens of thousands of speakers, but now on the verge of extinction. At the height of the language’s popularity, the native Kih Lurty ethnic group made up only about thirty to forty percent of the speaker population, the rest were immigrants, many very recent immigrants.

An important feature of the language, previously unknown to language science, are histemes, which are verbal particles that, through a still poorly understood mechanism, are biologically active. Speakers with different blood types, for example, must use distinct, biologically compatible histemes, or suffer an allergic reaction to speaking the language.

Under the immense adaptive pressure of so many recently transplanted speakers, Kih Lurty underwent a sudden bio-syntactic mutation, which caused a merger between the O-histeme and B-histeme, leaving no distinct O-histeme. 75% of ethnic Kih Lurty have blood types of A, B, or AB, while over 50% of the transplanted speakers are type O, and were thus rejected, even attacked by Kih Lurty. The resulting linguistic schism, which often divided families along native/non-native lines, has left some speakers unable to communicate with friends and family, and others abandoning the language altogether. All of the transplanted speakers are now gone, and only a few die-hard native speakers are left, but their numbers diminish on a daily basis.

Case Study 7: The Mik Gerk Effiolect

Mik Gerk is a family of related dialects in use by a dwindling and increasingly disheartened number of speakers. One of the more common dialects of Mik Gerk has unexpectedly become a partial effiolector swearing registermaking it significantly more difficult for speakers to communicate in a civil manner. This dialect, in apparent defiance of its speaker’s wishes, has developed some unusual “external” articulatory features that are in conflict with the acoustic features of the language. As a result, words are perceived significantly differently when seen and heard, as opposed to being only heard. Perversely, as the result of certain compensatory sound changes, many common words have come to sound (when unseen) like words that are taboo in the more conservative dialects. The net effect is that many of these acoustically measurable sounds changes are perceptually offset by the external articulations, which cause them to be perceived as more similar to their conservative cognates when the speaker’s mouth is visible. Many speakers have limited themselves to only speak Mik Gerk when facing their interlocutors, while others, feeling that their language has betrayed them, have abandoned it for other, more popular and less stressful world languages.

Case Study 8: The Zaks Language

This is a marginal instance, as it appears actually to have been an inadvertent rejection of speakers by a language that was stubbornly trying to achieve some other, essentially selfish, aim.

Zaks was split into strongly differentiated Northern and Southern dialects, which bordered each other along an apparently random line in a topologically featureless region. On May 2, 1958, the Northern and Southern dialects abruptly began to refuse to share lexical innovations across the dialect boundary line. Each Dialect innovated vocabulary within a unique, non-overlapping domain, with the Northern Dialect emphasizing celebrities and movies, while the Southern Dialect dominated the emergence of words for high-tech devices and their use. The unfortunate end result was that Northern Dialect speakers could not discuss technological innovations and Southern Dialect speakers could not discuss popular culture. Unable to talk about what all humans desperately need to discuss, both Northern and Southern Dialect speakers were forced to abandon Zaks and switch to the Süss language, which was the language of wider communication in their region.

Case Study 9: The Himing Wei Language

Beginning in the 1930’s, speakers of Himing Wei were aghast to discover that their language was resisting the construction of complex sentences. Although they tried to continue using complex constructions and embedded clauses, the language eventually lost these features entirely, and speakers were forced to resort to short, choppy sentences with little adverbial adornment. Speakers’ frustrations grew when the language began to reject clauses which did not mention Spanish bars. Finally, when Himing Wei began to accept “Nick” as the only permissible name for any human being, speakers were forced to abandon it in large numbers. Today the only speaker is a lonely fisherman who has gone years without catching a fish.

A Review of Wailin’ Jennings’ Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be LinguistsPraenomen Gentilicium Cognomen, Esq.
NEOLOGA-1A Macrofactor Framework for Linguistics DisordersQuan Tûm Wu
SpecGram Vol CLXV, No 2 Contents