Revivified Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know—Madalena Cruz-Ferreira SpecGram Vol CLXVI, No 2 Contents Linguistic Diversity and the Dream of the Universal Language—Chris Nsiwander-Sic

Nuclear Linguistics: The Story of the Local Interlingual Supercolliders for Phonemes

Ψ. Clotron, Cal Lider, Hy N. R. Ji, Schrö D. Ŋer
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies

While the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson has shone a spotlight on the worlds of particle and nuclear physics, the equally cutting edge field of Nuclear Linguistics has gone unnoticed. This article will repair this damage by providing a narrative of the work of two laboratories: PhonLab and ConLangLab. Both of these facilities aim to discover the particle responsible for the gravity of linguistic pronouncements, nicknamed the Boreon. In order to do this, they each use a separate Local Interlingual Supercollider for Phonemes (LISP), which allows them to spin independent phonemes round ovoid tracks at speeds approaching the speed of light before smashing them together.

Of first concern, of course, is the selection of phonemes to be used in the experiment.

Nuclear Linguist Higley Jacobs, chief of nuclear phonology on the ConLangLab project, explains the selection process:

“It would be [+pointless] to try to accelerate stops, of course. For obvious reasons and due to strident objections raised by some of the team, most fricatives and slow-starting affricates were also extra-metricalized.” The team chose not to use super-heavy segments such as long vowels and geminate nasals due to the danger to the public from super-accelerated mucus. Public protests arose in response to plans to transport and store super-saturated liquids through residential neighborhoods, and the team finally determined that safety concerns outweighed the scientific benefit of using these in the process.

Graduate student ‘Snoddly’ Sniffgrass expresses the regret of the Nuclear Linguistics community: “Man, everybody wanted to see a couple triple-long, nasalized /a/s slam into each other at near light speed, but you just can’t convince your average voter that the scientific benefit is worth the risk. It’s a dang shame.”

The team has finally decided to employ a set of small, light, alveolar ejectives harvested from unwitting speakers of Klingon.

Dr. Jacobs explains: “The use of these fissionable materials has several advantages, not the least of which is avoiding the [+irritation] and [++cost] of traveling to places where real languages are spoken.” He notes off the record that it also neatly avoids the complications of filling out human subject research paperwork. (The story of how the brave team faced almost certain death as they harvested these ejectives from the Klingon subjects is left for another time.)

The results of these collisions was the discovery that all linguistic elements are made up of smaller, sub-elements, that can be classified into four types: the Denton, the Percepton, the Mucon and the (as yet unisolated) Boreon. The mucons, discovered in the collision of nasal and alveolar ejectives, are responsible for carrying the liquid elements of phonemes. The “ch” found in the Scottish word “loch” can be seen to be the combination of two [+wet] mucons and one [+dry] mucon. A further [+gargle] mucon has been hypothesized but not yet discovered.

“It’s obviously the Boreon we’re after,” sighs Dr. Jacobs sadly, “but it’s dangerous. The lab assistants we hire can’t seem to stay awake during these data runs and several of them have been injured toppling off lab stools.”

Rousing himself for an interview, Sniffgrass, (who was later censured for copying his master’s thesis out of a Wikipedia article), opined: “The Boreon ... is an elementary particle in the Standard Theory ... and ... is predicted to exist for theoretical reasons, and may someday be detected by experiments. ... If confirmed, this detection would prove the existence of the hypothetical Boreon fieldthe simplest of several proposed mechanisms for ... the really complicated stuff in linguistics ... and the means by which introductory students of linguistics eventually acquire Masters’ Degrees.”

Initial predictions of the Boreon were publicized in the work of Gazdar, Glein, Gullum and Gag, dating to the mid-1980s. However, once other scholars worked out the implications of the Generalized Particulate Structure Model, a back-row PhD student at Illinois named Ross Robert Haaj concluded that the Boreon was actually implied in the work of Leonard Bloomfield (especially his 1933 work Language) and that even the Neogrammarians had a place for it in their mechanism of exceptionless sound change. Mr. Haaj (who never finished his degree and is now a dentist) suggested that the stylistic characteristics of many early works in linguistics may have contributed to the fact that no one realized their dullest implications.

Work therefore must continue in the attempt to isolate the Boreon with some degree of certainty. However, financial conditions at ConLangLab deteriorated sufficiently that it was deemed impossible to continue without outside funding. Thus, Boreon specialists from the world of Post-Modernist Aesthetic Neo-Anthropocolonial Studies have been brought in to provide more fissionable material, along with more examples of the Boreon field in action. Similarly, a team of experts in Linguistic Silly String Theory have funded the continuation of the project in return for efforts to find the particle responsible for bad breath, body odor, and inane questions at Linguistics conferences, which they have labelled the “Moron.”

Revivified Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowMadalena Cruz-Ferreira
Linguistic Diversity and the Dream of the Universal LanguageChris Nsiwander-Sic
SpecGram Vol CLXVI, No 2 Contents