Dubious Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know—Madalena Cruz-Ferreira SpecGram Vol CLXXIV, No 3 Contents Why Linguistic Theories Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson—Reviewed by Morris Swadesh III

Barnyard Linguistics

Carle Day-Tepharmer
X. Quizzit Korps Center for Advanced Collaborative Studies

Although many farmer linguists can truthfully be said to be out standing in their field, major journals have seen a precipitous drop off in submissions related to the once-fertile discipline of Barnyard Linguistics.

We no longer see quality descriptive works, such as Lord’s “ChickeneseA Grammatical Sketch” or even Xerus & Ratufa’s zooglossological “Word-A-Day Mongolian Calendar”. Why are there so few important philosophical treatises, such as Clover’s “Ruminating on Consonants”, or even theoretical musings such as Bangzerrungen’s “On the Wild Extrapolation of Rhodes’ Tame/Wild Scale”? Even tangential work, such as Phocaena’s discussion of Sea Bovine languages (“Is Manateean a Delphinic Creole?”) have all but disappeared.

Why is this so? What has become of fowl phonology and mutton morphology? We refuse to accept any more straw man explanationswe demand truth instead of more hogwash! In this paper, we broadcast the current status of the field, forecast its future growth, and predict the meager harvest of current research.

First, let us review the very few hardy investigators who are still cultivating barnyard linguistics.

For shear persistence in this research, the blue ribbon should go to Rachel U. Lambe of Barnyard College. Her M.A.A. thesis, building on her B.Aa. work, did much to comb the tangles out of prior research and weave a coherent fabric of data out of the rambling wool-gatherings of earlier workers.

Her recent fieldwork has uncovered much about the semantic significance of ungulate utterances. The following words of ovine have been identified:

baː drinking trough
baːbɝː shearer
bɛː recently shorn
bɝː large predatory animal
mɛː leader of the flock
bɝːbɝː nomad

More tentative, as it appears to violate the normal phonology, is:

baːθ sheep dip

The curious gender of pronouns in ovine has also received Lambe’s attention of late. She has conclusively shown that second person pronouns are always femaleall being, of course, ewe. Meanwhile, the male pronouns seem to change with age, such that the paradigm for “adult maleyoung maleelderly male” comes out to: a rama lamba ding-dong.

Ms. Lambe is not, however, the only recent contributor. Another relevant investigation was carried out to explore why individuals in Caledonian fields tend to shorten their vowels, an effect labeled “Lambe chops” in honor of the founder of the field. Olde, McDonald, et al. found that this was only found in those who were suffering from ham hocks and that vowels returned to normal length and production after the application of oinkment.

The application of extra-linguistic barnyard theory to barnyard linguistics has achieved rather less acclaim. Professor Thomas “Tex” Stir-Rupp’s attempt to redefine “transformations” as “cattle drives”, all subsumed under the single process “move alfalfa”, was an especial nadir.

Few of those with a philological bent have focused on the rustic countryside lately, partly because of tales of the havoc wrought by the 19th-century folklorists, who left entire regions barren of new data for generations. We have, however, recently seen some exciting proposals by Ranasvanthan Hrodnissensdottir, who is challenging the theory that barns represent a contraction of bar-aern, or “barley house”. She has instead argued that it is a simplification of barn-aern, or “youth prison / work center” as she puts it, noting that memories of their earlier use still persist in such expressions as “Were you raised in a barn?” Barn folk, she avers, were a known source of social tension in the Anglo-Saxon period, mentioned obliquely in several records as known strawshirkers, scofftedders, and mallowflaunts.

Like all branches of academia, barnyard linguistics is not short of political machinations. At the most recent meeting of the Global Organization for Bovine Barnyard Linguistic Engineering (GOBBLE) in Turkey, key steakholders were found stewing over the fact that the organization’s finances had gone to pot as research monies had been lean of late. No longer can ethno-barnyard linguists take on fat projects to do thick-sliced descriptions of language use in stable contexts. Instead, they are entirely reliant on horse-voiced informants, whose productions attract neigh-sayers. Socio-barnyard linguists on the other hand, find themselves shepherding sheeply-hired research assistants, whose training is farmed out to colleges whose only concern is the till.

There is simply no ducking around the impression that the number of barnyard offerings in established journals has gone down in recent years. Some have imagined that this sad tale is due to the fact that such feats of analysis are simply so eggscruciatingly difficult that fledgling researchers are currently flocking to easier work, perhaps work that does not involve so much shoveling.

However, a simple search reveals that predatory web-based journals are gobbling up most of the recent barnyard research and unsuspecting novices are expending their nest eggs to pay bills to publish in these venues and receiving poultry results.

We who prefer to do our work wearing open-toed shoes must come to the defence of barnyard researchers against the barnyard epithets so often hurled against their field of study, and instead help them to make more silk purses from sows’ ears. I believe it would be a feather in our collective caps to end the fowl practice and help train our younger colleagues to always go on the paper.

The final word on the subject must go to Joe Shoe, for his study of Sinitic loanwords in bovine:

“Does a Cow have Buddha Nature or Not? Moo.”

Dubious Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowMadalena Cruz-Ferreira
Why Linguistic Theories Fail, by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonReviewed by Morris Swadesh III
SpecGram Vol CLXXIV, No 3 Contents