On the Scientific Beautification of Personal Names: A Study in Experimental Phonosthetic Onomastics—Heidi Ideo & Velma Phlembotaine SpecGram Vol CLXXVIII, No 1 Contents From the Archives!—Rasmus, the Fragrance—The SpecGram Archive Elves™

Biscuits and Languages:
A Discerning Human’s Tasting Guide

Adham Smart

If music be the food of love, play on”, sighs Duke Orsino at the beginning of Twelfth Night, a famous line which spawned the almost-as-famous saying known to linguists around the globe, “If language be the music of food, eat biscuits.” Linguists have been attracted to biscuits* ever since the Grimm brothers’ Einführung in der Sprachgeschmacks­wissenschaft gave the academic world the first taxonomic classification of the major European biscuits, tracing them back to the original Urkeks of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, believed to be a hard, semi-sweet, crumbly affair reminiscent of tiffin. While the brothers’ attempts at reconstructing this proto-biscuit were literally and academically unpalatable, the interest they ignited in historical gustato-linguistics travelled the world, leaving behind it a trail of unproven theories and half-baked ideas.

And so, like cheese to wine and chocolate to coffee, we at the Mary Berry Centre for Experimental Linguistics at the University of Nice are delighted to present for the twofold stimulation of your oral cavity the first ever language/biscuit tasting guide. We have taken a selection of fine languages matured in native speakers’ mouths for thousands of years, distilled and analysed their essential characteristics, and paired them with the most complementary biscuit to maximise your tasting pleasure. Read, eat, enjoy, and clean up those bloody crumbs afterwards.

ArabicDry and crumbly with a wholesome sweetness.

a digestive with no glass of milk

PersianAlso dry, but with a buttery under-texture and a sweet, uncanny familiarity.

a Leibniz biscuit you thought you’d already eaten

RussianA flavour at times deceptively simple, at times simply deceptive.

a green tea KitKat

WelshSweet but difficult to grasp.

a piece of Nice dunked for too long, sitting at the bottom of the cup

FrenchMellow, fruity, and difficult to swallow.

the last raisin cookie, left in the packet for three days

PortugueseChewy and mournful.

a stolen flapjack

GeorgianFun, but irregular and sometimes painful.

florentine à la iron filings

TurkishFriendly and highly agglutinative.

a whole pack of Hobnobs someone gave you just to be nice

AbkhazA lot less friendly, but means well.

half a Hobnob

EsperantoThere’s something funny about this biscuit.

a Garibaldi (you know why)

PirahãFatal System Error.

a cup of flour and a cup of water placed next to each other in the oven

HungarianDifficult to navigate, seemingly full of useless crap, altogether alien but still tempting.

Rocky Road

Pig LatinNot a biscuit.

ice cream

Hopi & TibetanExhibit superficial similarities, but ultimately comparison is fruitless.

an Oreo and a Bourbon

BasqueA flavour that gets exponentially more complex the more you eat.

a biscuit with so many auxiliary biscuits that together they pretty much make an entire box of biscuits

DutchPumpernickel rejected from the German pumpernickel factory for being too nickely and not pumpy enough.

cake rusks

Valencian & Catalan...is this a different biscuit?

two biscuits that are identical

* ‘Biscuit’ used here in the British sense, referring to the sweet hard-baked confection. For a discussion on the different words for baked snacks used either side of the Atlantic, see Bluffin’ with My Muffin: A Study in the Iconicity of the North American vs. British and Irish Baked Heritage Lexicons (Kookjes & Kareem, 2009).

On the Scientific Beautification of Personal Names: A Study in Experimental Phonosthetic OnomasticsHeidi Ideo & Velma Phlembotaine
From the Archives!Rasmus, the FragranceThe SpecGram Archive Elves™
SpecGram Vol CLXXVIII, No 1 Contents