Linguimericks—Book ५६ SpecGram Vol CLXXXIII, No 1 Contents *u̯erg̑- u̯erg̑- u̯erg̑-: Aspects of Indo-European Popular Culture—Joe R. G. d’Umezzille

Thank You, Historical Linguist

Presented by The Third Autonomous Bilborough Linguistics Circle

Who wants to live in the past, hey? Well, linguists do, at least those of the historical linguistics bentand boy, do we have a lot to thank them for. Sure, the average Historical Linguist may not yet have heard of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Prezi, but they have heard of things just as important, if not more so: cognates, the comparative method, attested versus reconstructed forms, glottochronology (often mistaken for an unpleasant throat disease), lexicostatistics (which sounds a bit like a stripper’s stage name) and most of all Jacob Grimm (but not in his capacity as a writer of nightmare-inducing children’s bedtime stories).

So, don’t waste your time looking at perennial issues in linguistics, form-function mappings, and the role of cognition in language, or even worse, looking to the future with the neurobiological basis of language, AI and linguistics or cutting edge translation tools. For a complete linguistics education, turn your head back over your shoulder and start taking seriously the etymological relationship between Germanic reflexes of *berô and Greek φέρ-, the role of archeological evidence in validating hypotheses about movements of people around the Danube X millennia ago, and why lexemes for animals and kinship relations are super-important.

Historical linguistics is so cool that it even has its own name: philologythe first element of which is also found in philately, philosophy, Francophile, and unfortunately, paedophile. And, far from getting hung up on the irrelevancies of synchronic analysis, Historical Linguists love a bit of diachrony, the first element of which also appears in diarrhea and diabolical. Most important of all, some philologists get really famous. J. R. R. Tolkien, for example, was a philologist and everyone’s heard of him, although admittedly that was for writing a really long book about short hairy mini people running up volcanic mountains with evil rings. But hey.

So, three cheers for Historical Linguists, if not the literal then at least the metaphorical future of linguistics! As the Proto-Indo-Europeans (probably) said, *Hoop *hoop *ghooray!

LinguimericksBook ५६
*u̯erg̑- u̯erg̑- u̯erg̑-: Aspects of Indo-European Popular CultureJoe R. G. d’Umezzille
SpecGram Vol CLXXXIII, No 1 Contents