This week’s departmental seminar was given by Josh Quipley, who has recently returned from an extensive period conducting “linguistic research” in Europe.
Josh spoke about his search for the elusive “South Germans”, speakers of the lost fourth branch of the Germanic language family. He said that his research was inspired by a weathervane.1
Josh’s presentation included picture after picture of his stylish journey southward from Germany: Klosters, St. Moritz, Kitzbühel, Zurs, Verbier, Cortina d’Ampezzo, and so on. There were a surprisingly large number of pictures of après-
He claimed that he was retracing the migration of the alpine sport–
Josh proposed a name for the daughter language: Vatican, based on where he discovered it. He says that the words may not appear related to our untrained eyes, but the data can easily be explained by cyclical shifts, which he calls “Quipley’s Law”.
Not all of the changes are equally well attested across the four branches of the Germanic family. Some shifts are less obvious due to other changes. For instance, slippery (W. Ger.) is cognate with lūbricus (S. Ger.), but the word was so slippery that the s fell off.
Some words appear not to follow Quipley’s Law, Josh admits.3 Some of his
friends acquaintances from his ski vacation tried to help him work through the exceptions, but Josh is not good with remembering names.4 He remembers sharing a delicious ginger beverage with a Michigander, who suggested what he calls Vernor’s Law. We don’t understand what “Cowgirl’s Law” is or who came up with it, but we speculate that he met a woman from Texas, and, knowing Josh (and how he snickers every time he says lūbricus), we’d really rather not think about it more than that.
Josh concluded with a theory about how the Vatican language was kept alive by a shadowy group called the Priority of Science, who wanted to hide the fact that St. Peter’s Basilica was accidentally built on a feather instead of a rock. We tuned out at this point because it sounded like the plot of a bad Dan Brown novel.5
We’re positive that Josh has heard of Latin, if only because he originally wanted to do his thesis on the porcine version of it. His prospects for future employment in linguistics are pretty grim if he keeps chasing after his fairy-
That said, it is true that southward-
vandalized had a great deal of influence on the late Western Roman Empire and Vulgar Latin. Come to think of it, most of the population of Switzerland speaks German, and the pope is protected by the Swiss Guard! Wait a minute... the last pope was German, so does that mean... no, don’t believe it!... or do?
1 Supporting our theory that one day he will grow up to be a politician.
2 On second thought, perhaps he’ll be a linguist after all.
3 But he won’t be a theoretical linguist.
4 Or anything from his Linguistics 101 textbook, apparently.
5 Is there any other kind?
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