Overheard in the Linguistics Student Lounge—Chesterton Wilburfors Gilchrist, IV SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 1 Contents Rēgēs Inter Rēgulās: Even Better Roman—Pyrrha Pulcheria Titania Maxima Candida, Þн.δ.

Some Features of Arxiflbptlscfl

Trent Slater

Deep in the swampy forests of Sczzap-buttsclptui, around six kilometers from the nearest outpost of civilization (a Starbucks), lies the land of the Merry-Lingmanlaugh people. If one ignores their continual laughter and persists another day’s walk through the gabba-gabba bushes, you find a group of honoured old men and women who are, we are told, the last speakers of the strange language of Arxiflbptlscfl. An isolate, this language rivals any in the literature for its ability to counter existing linguistic understanding.

Some Basic Rules

Any linguist learning Arxi (as we shall call it now) must begin by learning its taboos. The main one is an aversion to counting above five, as numbers in Arxi are simply repetitions of the syllable zub.

It is little wonder that any number over five is just said to be zubbizubzub or “lots more then two”.

Another rule of note is that Arxi speakers generally do not use honorifics but instead use paralinguistic devices to indicate respect or the lack thereof. One informant showed me how he addresses those of higher, more respectable ranks. He holds his thumb against his nose, waves his fingers a-fro vigourously and makes a repeated bilabial trill. A female respondent informed me that it is also customary to giggle vociferously whenever anyone shows great learning, such as when answering a request for a linguistic enunciation.

It is also important to remember that there are 16 grammatical genders in Arxi, forming two levels each in four categories. The categories are proximity, movement, height and ability to beat you in a fight. Thus, the pronoun for a far away, moving towards you person of small height and who could not beat you in a fight is Scuzzbukkit. For a close person, who is moving, is tall and could beat you in a fight it is Yir-onnur.

Understanding Hunting

Hunting is a key part of Arxi vocabulary. The only verb root in the entire language comes from hunting, with adpositions used to increase its semantic range. A hunter is a scfllott. To hunt is scflottotot. From this verb, comes the root scfl, which then forms the following verbs:

My fieldwork involved memorising the important Arxi greeting scfl-ts-boom-ts-bawawawa-kayeffsee meaning “may your hunt be easy and your prey already tender.” It is an expression of good fortune and good health and must be said while spinning rapidly in a circle, before licking one’s fingers. The traditional response is fingo-l’ken’guid. I have not been able to parse the meaning of this.

Hunts are organised by placing visitors in the front of the hunting party and chasing prey towards them. When the visitor screams loudly, the party knows that the prey is near and can be hunted. Visitors are always asked to ceremonially accept the prey by kissing it on one foot.

Notes for Future Linguistic Research

While I do not yet have enough data to make deep theoretical claims, it must be said that the speakers of Arxi are a welcoming bunch. They commonly write words on leaves and press them to the back of any visitor. This is followed by the ceremonial welcome of a pat on the back. It is said that the more pats to the back one receives and the more respectful nose-thumbs one sees, the longer one’s life will be. At this rate, I shall live longer than philology.

Overheard in the Linguistics Student LoungeChesterton Wilburfors Gilchrist, IV
Rēgēs Inter Rēgulās: Even Better RomanPyrrha Pulcheria Titania Maxima Candida, Þн.δ.
SpecGram Vol CXCII, No 1 Contents