Weak Phonological Phenomena Are
by Ruthlessly Roving Reporter Miss Deakina Andrea Kirkhamia
A freshly-baked Sunday spread of momma’s-homemade-strawberry-jam-level intensity has just been announced by the Devonshire University System (DUnS). At a press conference in the iconic central dodecahedrangle of DunS’ main campus, near ‘suicide cliff’ on the south coast of Devonshire, the sub-division of phenomenology, philosophy, philandering and phonology (SDoPhPhPhPh) unveiled the results of 18 lunar months of research into weak phonological phenomena. Such phenomena, it turns out, are literally weaker than other non-weak phonological phenomena.
We were there, at the scene, for SpecGram, on Tuesday, with cake, in high heels, under supervision and on tenterhooks as Duncan (Dunn) Siddie-Ott, Deputy Under-Supervisor (DUnS) of DUnS screamed the results into the microphone is a near silent whisper of rage. ‘There’s a metrical ton of so-called weak phenomenomenomenomena in phonologeologeoly including weak syllables in the metrical context, weak syllables in tone context, weak vowels, weekly phonology department meetings, weak responses to questions raised in those meetings, intonation patterns for weak replies and weak theories. We’ve been testing these phenomenomenomenomena out in a specially designed phonologym and it turns out that weak syllables bench-press significantly less than strong syllables, weak vowels can’t power-lift for toffee, love or money, and weak responses in meetings have literally no legs. So, while the jury’s still out on whether there are more tiers in Autosegmental Phonology than the tears Cleopatra cried after the battle of Actium, we now know for sure that weak means weak in phonological theory.’
We later caught up with Morris Halle as he was dismounting from one of his quartet of quad bikes in the quad. ‘I made an extremely weak contribution to phonology in 1968,’ he admitted, ‘If only I’d realised that weak phenomena make a stronger contribution than binary features, maybe I’d have achieved the ever-lasting fame and unbounded material wealth that I so ardently sought. I guess Noam and I were so obsessed with pen-and-paper formalisms that we never thought about developing a phonologym.’
As Morris Halle wandered off wistfully into the middle distance we grabbed a final quote from Professor Tim-Tam Shilly-Shally, Director of the University Networking Service (DUNS) at DUnS. ‘These groans, screams and deep-throated gargling about weak phonological phenomena are of critical importance,’ alternately groaned and screamed Shilly-Shally in a deep-throated gargle. ‘It indicates,’ he indicated, ‘that metalanguage may be non-intentionally non-metaphorical.’
‘This profound piece of serendipity seems to suggest,’ he seemed to suggest, ‘that certain spiritual forces, angelic beings or possibly even minor gods have been guiding the development of phonological theory over several decades which in turn gives me great hope for the continuation of the field. Right, I’m off to the phonologym to strengthen my weak vowels with some Pilates.’