Since my last column, I’ve had loads of questions. I thought I’d deal with a couple so you can see what my gardening looks like on a daily basis.
Q: You’ve got famous trees and shrubs but you don’t grow a PIE tree, why is that?
A: I’m a bit crusty in my views. For me, a reconstructed language is like reconstituted meat: it’s technically still the same as it was before but all the good bits are gone. Some tell me that I can grow thousands of languages from PIE roots but I’ve been planting them in the ground and all I got was a bunch of crows gathering to eat up the spilt steak & kidney. Don’t get me started on the gravy! I might copy the great Romance gardeners, Mills & Boon, and grow some French orthography but I just don’t have the space yet for all those extra letters.
Q: Do you have a proto-
A: Of course I don’t! What you’ve gots to understand is that English is a hybrid that you have absolutely no chance of producing in your garden. You can try grafting Romance words into Germanic grammar but then your cases just fall off. And don’t get me started about the Sanskrit branches!
Q: I’m a despot. What hints can you give me about planning my language garden?
A: If you want a planned language garden, you’re gonna be needing the right soil and the right tools. First, you’ll need to use the right seeds: prescriptivismus sans evidentia is your go-to. Yeah, it stinks but you get used to it. Then you need to wrap a national language academy in about 20 foot of ermine. After that, fill yer spout with Latinate forms, throw in some rules from Ancient Greek and call it a day.
Q: I got some seeds from Elder Futhark and now my garden’s totally runed. What can I do?
A: Now, I can’t do too much about that, even if you write to me in Italics. I do know that good old Mr Futhark is a generous fellow, passing on plants to many different gardens, even if we’re not sure where they came from in the first place. The best advice I can give you is to just forget the whole saga.